A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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The parish of Fladbury lies in the south-east of the county between Evesham and Pershore and was described in the 17th century as 'a paryshe very large, richly seated in the vale of Evesham.' (fn. 1) The area of the parish with its hamlets and chapelries is 6,879 acres, (fn. 2) of which 1,573 acres lie in Fladbury, 1,368 in Hill and Moor, 1,522 in Throckmorton, 381 in Wyre Piddle, 1,151 in Stock and Bradley, and 884 acres in Ab Lench. (fn. 3) In Fladbury, including Hill and Moor, 1,070 acres are arable land, 1,234 acres are permanent grass and 93 acres are woodland. (fn. 4) Throckmorton includes 1,017 acres of arable land and 492 acres of permanent grass; Wyre Piddle, 270 acres of arable and 161 acres of permanent grass; Stock and Bradley, 90 acres of arable land and 945 acres of permanent grass. (fn. 5) The soil is chiefly light clay with a little sand; the subsoil is Lower Lias, producing crops of wheat, beans, barley, hops, market garden produce and fruit. Vines were formerly grown at Fladbury, for in the register of Worcester Priory occurs the statement that the sacrist received two parts of the tithes of the land where vines once grew at Fladbury, Ripple and Westbury. (fn. 6) At the end of the 18th century about 2 acres of land called the Vineyard belonged to the rector of Fladbury. (fn. 7)
The Avon forms the southern boundary of the parish, and from the valley of the river the land rises slightly to the north. The highest point in the parish is Craycombe Hill to the north-east of the village of Fladbury, about 300 ft. above the ordnance datum.
The main road from Worcester to Evesham runs through the parish from west to east. On a branch from this road on the right bank of the River Avon is the village of Fladbury. A bridge over the Avon to the south of the village, erected in commemoration of the 1897 Jubilee, connects it with Cropthorne. In the open space between the Anchor Inn and the church a market is said to have been held in former times on Wednesdays. (fn. 8) The rectory was built by the son of Bishop Lloyd in 1710. (fn. 9) There are several half-timber and brick houses dating mostly from the 17th century; one opposite the church, the front of which has been covered with rough-cast, has a good oak stairway with moulded handrails and turned balusters of about 1700; another near the junction of the roads has an early 18th-century brick front with original window frames and leaded lights in small squares. A half-timber barn on the roadside north of the village has been much repaired and modernized, but probably dates from the 15th century.
The hamlet of Wyre Piddle in the west of the parish contains some good half-timber houses. The Avon bounds it on the south, PiddleBrook, a tributary of that river, forming its western boundary. In the centre of this hamlet is the shaft and base of an old stone cross. It was restored in 1844, and is now surmounted by an iron cross.
Of the hamlet of Hill and Moor the most populous portion is Lower Moor, which lies near the railway to the south of the Worcester road. It contains one or two interesting old house. At Hill, in the north of this hamlet, is Court Farm, which bears the date 1681 on the weather vane.
The village of Ab or Abbots Lench, formerly a hamlet and chaperly of Fladbury, but since 1865 (fn. 10) ecclesiastically part of Church Lench, is completely isolated from Fladbury, part of the parish of Bishampton lying between them. It is divided from Bishopton by Whitsun Brook, over which there is a bridge called Stakamford Bridge. The village consists of a few houses on a branch road from that leading from Rous Lench to Fladbury.
The now separate parish of Stock and Bradley is also completely cut off from Fladbury, of which it was formerly a part, and lies to the west of the parish of Feckenham. The Salt Way, now the high road from Droitwich to Alcester, runs through it from west to east, and from it a road runs south along the eastern border of the parish to the village of Bradley. A stream forms part of the western boundary of Stock and Bradley, and another brook flows through the parish from east to west, being crossed south of the village of Bradley by Priest Bridge. In 1680 this bridge was first built of stone, and an agreement was made between the inhabitants of Bradley and the lord of Fladbury Manor by which the latter found the materials and the former supplied the labour. The lord of Fladbury was relieved of liability to further contributions in consideration of his payment of a lump sum. (fn. 11) Bradley Green is to the north of the parish, and Stock Green lies to the south on the Inkberrow boundary.
The disafforestation of the forest of Horewell, which formerly covered part of the parish of Fladbury, took place in 1229 (fn. 12); the parish is still, however, well wooded.
An Inclosure Act was passed for Fladbury in 1788, and the award is dated 23 May 1789 (fn. 13); for Stock and Bradley in 1825, (fn. 14) for Hill and Moor in 1832, (fn. 15) for Throckmorton in 1772, (fn. 16) and for Wyre Piddle in 1836 and 1840, the award being dated 5 August 1841. (fn. 17)
There was a monastery at FLADBURY in early times. It was given, together with 44 cassati of land at Fladbury, to Bishop Oftfor in 691–2 by King Ethelred, (fn. 18) for the welfare of his soul and that of his wife Osthryth. (fn. 19) In the early part of the 8th century Bishop Æcgwine, Oftfor's successor, exchanged the monastery and its lands with a noble named Æthelheard for 20 cassati at Stratfordon-Avon. (fn. 20) He explained the apparently unprofitable nature of the exchange by pointing out that he and the king had agreed that both places should revert to the church after the death of the noble. (fn. 21) In the Annals of Evesham, however, we are told that Bishop Æcgwine, who was the founder of Evesham, gave up Fladbury to Æthelheard in order to secure Stratford, both vills being claimed by Æthelheard as heir of Queen Osthryth. (fn. 22) The monks of Evesham further stated that Fladbury had been given by Ethelred to Æcgwine and the abbey of Evesham in 703, and attributed their inability to recover it to the superior strength of the Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 23) About 780 Bishop Tilhere consented and subscribed to a deed by which Aldred, subregulus of the Hwiccas and a descendant of Æthelheard, granted the monastery of Fladbury to his kinswoman Æthelburh for her life, with reversion to the church of Worcester. (fn. 24) At about this time Bishop Tilhere made a great feast for King Offa and his chieftains at Fladbury, where the king granted to the church the royal vill of Cropthorne with land amounting to 50 mansae and a very choice Bible with two clasps of pure gold. (fn. 25) After Æthelburh's death the monastery reverted to the church of Worcester and was confirmed in the early part of the 9th century to Bishop Deneberht by Coenwulf, King of Mercia, in an undated charter, (fn. 26) by which he also granted to the bishop the reversion after his death of the land of thirty tributaries at Fladbury. (fn. 27) The see of Worcester continued to hold the manor until the date of the Domesday Survey, when it paid geld for 40 hides. (fn. 28) In the 12th century the bishop still held these 40 hides at Fladbury. (fn. 29) Richard I freed 13½ acres from essartum, (fn. 30) and King John confirmed this grant. (fn. 31) On 15 March 1214 he gave leave to the bishop to plough up 29½ acres of his wood. (fn. 32) In 1254 the bishop received a grant of free warren at Fladbury. (fn. 33) The manor was confirmed to the church by Pope Gregory in 1275, (fn. 34) and in 1291 was worth £29 6s. a year. (fn. 35) It remained in the possession of successive Bishops of Worcester, (fn. 36) and was in 1535 worth £53 1s. 2d. yearly. (fn. 37) In 1632 the bishop granted a lease of it to William Sandys for his life and that of his brother Thomas, and of William's wife Cicely daughter of Sir John Steed. (fn. 38) During the Civil War the manor was seized by Parliament, and a survey was taken in 1648. (fn. 39) In the same year the manor was sold to Robert Henley and Edward Smith for £1,082 9s. 6d. (fn. 40) After the Restoration the Bishop of Worcester recovered the manor, which he then seems to have leased to the Henleys and afterwards to the Hales. (fn. 41) The lease was purchased by Nicholas Lechmere in 1681, (fn. 42) and four years later he sold to Thomas Earl of Plymouth, the lease then running for the lives of Robert Henley of the Grange (co. Hants), of George brother of Sir John Hales deceased, and of William Peck. (fn. 43) In 1699 the lease was held by Other Windsor Earl of Plymouth, grandson and successor of Thomas. (fn. 44) His daughters sold the remainder of the lease to George Perrott, one of the barons of the Exchequer, who died 28 January 1780. (fn. 45)
The manor remained with the successive Bishops of Worcester until it was taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners under the Act of 1860, (fn. 46) and they are still lords of the manor, (fn. 47) but the lease remained in the Perrott family until 1861, when it passed by exchange to the Commissioners. (fn. 48)
There was a mill at Fladbury in 1086 which was worth 10s. and 20 stiches (fn. 49) of eels a year. (fn. 50) Bishop William of Blois purchased a mill there from Adam de Evesham in the early part of the 13th century. (fn. 51) In 1302 there were two mills at Fladbury farmed at £3 19s. 6d., and the fishery in the Avon brought in a rent of 19s. 6d. (fn. 52) Two water corn-mills were included in the sale to Robert Henley and Edward Smith. (fn. 53) There is now a corn-mill in Fladbury, to the south of the village on the Avon, and Wyre Mill is a corn-mill on the Avon in the south of Wyre Piddle.
AB LENCH or ABBOT'S LENCH (Abeleng, xi cent.; Habbelenche, xiii cent.; Hob Lench, xvi and xvii cent.; Abs Lench, xviii cent.; Abbot's Lench, (fn. 54) xviii and xix cent.) seems to have belonged to the church of Worcester from an early date, and was probably comprised in the 5 mansae at Lench which Oswald gave to Gardulf for three lives in 983. (fn. 55) It appears in the Domesday Survey as the property of the bishop, of whom it had been held by Godric. It is said that he did 'service for it to the bishop (on such terms) as he could obtain.' (fn. 56) At the actual time of the Survey Urse D'Abitot, the Sheriff of Worcestershire, held it of the bishop as of his manor of Fladbury. (fn. 57) It appears to have afterwards passed to Urse's descendants, the Beauchamps, and may possibly have been included in the 22 hides which Walter de Beauchamp held of the bishop in Fladbury early in the 12th century. (fn. 58)
The overlordship of Ab Lench descended in the Beauchamp family until the 16th century, (fn. 59) but the superior lordship of the Bishops of Worcester seems to have lapsed in the 13th century. (fn. 60)
The manor of Ab Lench was held towards the end of the 12th century under William de Beauchamp by Stephen de Beauchamp. (fn. 61) It must shortly afterwards have passed to William de Belne, who was said in a survey of Fladbury taken at about that time to be holding these 5 hides, which gelded at only 1 hide and had formerly been pasture for kine. (fn. 62)
It was afterwards held by Roger de Lench, who, according to the Testa de Nevill, held one knight's fee and 2 hides of William de Beauchamp, who held of the Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 63) The entry probably refers to Ab Lench and Rous Lench, both of which the Lay Subsidy Roll of 1346 conclusively proves to have been held by Roger de Lench. (fn. 64)
Possibly it was this Roger who with Stephen de Lench successfully resisted the encroachment of the Abbot of Halesowen on the common pasture of Ab Lench in 1230. (fn. 65) Ankaretta de Beauchamp paid a subsidy of 20s. at Ab Lench in 1280. (fn. 66)
In 1299–1300 Ab Lench had passed into the hands of Simon le Bruyn, (fn. 67) to whom the Belnes' land at Belbroughton also passed. He was still in possession of it in 1315, according to the inquisition taken on the death of Guy de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, which states that he held half a knight's fee there. (fn. 68) John le Bruyn paid a subsidy at Ab Lench in 1327, (fn. 69) and in 1346 he or a descendant of the same name paid 20s. for half a knight's fee in Ab Lench which Roger de Lench had formerly held. (fn. 70)
Henry Bruyn of Brians Bell held land in Ab Lench in 1405–6, (fn. 71) and it passed by the marriage of his 'cousin' and heir Joan to Sir Nicholas Burdett, (fn. 72) Great Butler of Normandy, who was slain in 1440. (fn. 73) His son Thomas Burdett (fn. 74) was a servant or follower of George Duke of Clarence; on 20 April 1474 he was attainted of high treason (fn. 75) and executed in the early part of 1477. (fn. 76) One of the charges brought against the Duke of Clarence on his attainder in the same year was that he sent his servants 'into diverse parties of this Royaulme to assemble the King's subjects to Feste theym and chere theym and by theise policies and reasonyng enduce them to beleve that the said Burdett was wrongfull excuted and so to putte it in noyse and herts of the People.' (fn. 77) Burdett's lands were forfeited, but the attainder seems to have been afterwards reversed, as on 17 June 1478 the custody of his son and heir Nicholas, a minor, and of all his possessions was granted to Sir Simon Mountfort. (fn. 78) Nicholas died without issue and was succeeded by his brother John Burdett, (fn. 79) who in 1483–4 released to his half-brother Richard Burdett and others all his right in the manor of Ab Lench. (fn. 80)
On 1 October 1487 the manor was settled upon this Richard Burdett and Joyce his wife and his heirs. (fn. 81) Richard died in 1492, leaving his son Thomas, aged fourteen years and more, as his heir. Joyce survived her husband, (fn. 82) and held the manor until her death under the terms of the deed referred to.
Thomas Burdett, who was in possession of the manor in 1534, (fn. 83) died without issue, and it passed to his sister Anne, (fn. 84) who became the wife of Edward Conway. (fn. 85) She predeceased her husband, who held the manor by courtesy until his death in 1546. John Conway, their son and heir, was stated to be then thirty-five years of age. (fn. 86) He was knighted in 1560, (fn. 87) and sold the manor in 1565 to John Rous (fn. 88) of Rous Lench, with which manor Ab Lench has since descended, (fn. 89) Dr. William Kyle Westwood Chafy, D.D., of Rous Lench Court, being the present lord of the manor.
In 1227 Warin son of William de Upton granted jointly with his wife Hawisia 40 acres of land in AB LENCH to the Abbot and convent of Halesowen, with common of pasture, (fn. 90) and his grant was confirmed by William Marshal Earl of Pembroke for the souls of himself and Eleanor his wife on condition that a rent of 4s. should be paid yearly at his manor of Inkberrow. (fn. 91) He afterwards relinquished his claim to this rent in favour of the abbey. (fn. 92)
The Abbot and convent of Halesowen were in possession of property in Ab Lench in 1228–9, when they were fined 20s. (fn. 93) The abbot is stated to have afterwards erected houses for the storage of grain on the common pasture of Ab Lench, and an action was brought against him by Roger and Stephen de Lench, perhaps on behalf of the inhabitants; they recovered seisin of the pasture, and the houses were ordered to be removed, but on 18 September 1230, on the petition of the abbot, leave was granted for the houses to remain standing until 2 February in the next year. (fn. 94) On 20 September 1233 the abbot paid 2s. for assarts made at Lench, (fn. 95) from which it would appear that his land included a part of the woodland mentioned in Domesday. In 1272–3 the abbot conveyed to Ralph de Hengham a messuage and land in Church Lench and Ab Lench. (fn. 96) Though land at Ab Lench is not mentioned among the possessions of the abbey in 1291 (fn. 97) or in 1535, it is possible that they retained some estate there, which passed in the same way as their manor of Church Lench to the Scudamores, for John Scudamore held in 1596 a manor called Hob Lench, (fn. 98) which passed with the manor of Church Lench until 1627, when it is mentioned for the last time. (fn. 99)
In a catalogue of the charters of the monastery of Worcester there is mentioned one by Wulfstan called the Archbishop, who was Bishop of Worcester from 1062 to 1095, relating to three mansae at THROCKMORTON (fn. 100) (Throcmortune, xi cent.; Trokemardtune, xii cent.; Trockmerton, Trochmerton, xiii cent.; Throkmarton, xiv cent.), but the nature of this charter is not known. Throckmorton is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, being then probably included in Fladbury, of which it was part until the 15th century. (fn. 101) After 1415 the manor was held of the Bishops of Worcester at a fee-farm rent of £12. (fn. 102)
Throckmorton gives its name to the family of Throckmorton, who were tenants of the Bishop of Worcester at an early date, Reoland Throckmorton appearing as a juror for the hundred of Oswaldslow in the middle of the 12th century. (fn. 103) Raulyn, who held 2½ hides in Throckmorton about 1182, may have been a member of this family, possibly identical with Reoland. (fn. 104) Adam de Throckmorton apparently owned land in Worcestershire in 1174–5, (fn. 105) and John and Joscelin de Throckmorton appear in 1175–6 and 1176–7, (fn. 106) but it is not known that they held land in Throckmorton. Henry son of John de Throckmorton at the beginning of the 13th century obtained from Mauger Bishop of Worcester (1199–1212) half a hide of land in Fladbury, (fn. 107) and he is probably the Henry son of John who is mentioned in the Testa de Nevill as holding a virgate of land in Throckmorton. (fn. 108)
Adam son of Robert, who also held at that time a virgate of land in Throckmorton, (fn. 109) was possibly the Adam de Throckmorton who was dealing with a third of a fee in Upton and Throckmorton in 1232–3. (fn. 110) According to a pedigree of the family given by Nash, Adam died before 1248, and was succeeded by his son Robert, who was alive in 1252. (fn. 111) Robert appears to have been succeeded before 1266 by a son Simon. (fn. 112) Robert de Throckmorton, who obtained a dispensation from the Bishop of Worcester in 1275, (fn. 113) was son of Simon. (fn. 114) He was living in 1315–16, (fn. 115) and is perhaps identical with the Robert de Throckmorton who in 1333–4 settled four messuages and land in Throckmorton upon his son John and Maud his wife, with remainder to his other children, Nicholas, Sybil, Alice and Joan. (fn. 116) The manor of Throckmorton seems, however, to have passed to Robert's son Giles, for a messuage and 2 carucates of land in Throckmorton were settled in 1341–2 upon Giles and his wife Agnes, and upon their sons Robert, John, Thomas and Richard in tail-male. (fn. 117)
Thomas Throckmorton, who, according to the pedigree of the family given in the Visitation of Warwickshire, (fn. 118) was a son of John Throckmorton, was of the retinue of Thomas Beauchamp Earl of Warwick in 1396, was escheator for the county of Worcester in 1402, and Constable of Elmley Castle in 1404–5. (fn. 119) He seems to have made a lease of the manor in 1410–11, (fn. 120) and was succeeded by his son Sir John Throckmorton, (fn. 121) who was also of the retinue of the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 122) In 1415 the Bishop of Worcester obtained licence to grant fourteen messuages and 2 carucates of land in Throckmorton to Sir John de Throckmorton, to be held of the bishop at a feefarm rent. (fn. 123) This was probably the estate which the bishop had held in demesne in the 12th century. (fn. 124) Habington evidently refers to this transaction when he says that John Carpenter, who succeeded as Bishop of Worcester in 1444, so much disliked the alienation of Throckmorton that he threatened to excommunicate the Prior and monks of Worcester on account of it, whereupon they sued to the Archbishop of Canterbury to send for Thomas son of John Throckmorton (fn. 125) and command him to give satisfaction to the Bishop of Worcester. But 'thys lounge contention beeinge in the end utterly extinguished, thys good Bishopp entred into such a leauge of fryndshyp with Thomas Throckmorton as in Testimony of his charitye he enterteyned him to be Stuarde of all hys Castelles, Mannors etc. with a fee of 10 li. per annum.' (fn. 126) In 1440 Sir John was styled chamberlain of the Exchequer and under-treasurer of England. He died in 1445, and was buried in the church of Fladbury, where there is an inscription to his memory. (fn. 127) Sir John Throckmorton was succeeded by a son Thomas, (fn. 128) who in 1467 obtained a general pardon for all offences committed by him before 23 June. (fn. 129) He died in 1472, (fn. 130) and his son Sir Robert was in possession of the manor in 1500. (fn. 131) Sir Robert died in 1518, and was succeeded by his son George, (fn. 132) who settled the manor of Throckmorton on his son Robert on his marriage with Elizabeth Hungerford. (fn. 133) Robert succeeded his father in 1552, (fn. 134) and died in 1581, leaving a son Thomas. (fn. 135) Thomas Throckmorton was involved in difficulties owing to his religious opinions, his estate being frequently sequestrated and his person imprisoned. (fn. 136) He died in 1615, and was succeeded by his grandson Sir Robert Throckmorton, (fn. 137) who was created a baronet in 1642, (fn. 138) and suffered severely at the hands of the Parliamentary forces during the Civil War. (fn. 139) He died 16 January 1650, and was followed by his son Sir Francis Throckmorton, (fn. 140) who died 7 November 1680. (fn. 141) His eldest surviving son Sir Robert, (fn. 142) who was one of the 'Catholic non-jurors,' died 8 March 1720–1, (fn. 143) and was succeeded by his only surviving son Sir Robert, (fn. 144) on whose death on 8 December 1791 the manor probably passed to his grandson and successor to the title Sir John Courtenay Throckmorton. (fn. 145) He died without issue in 1819, and his brother and successor Sir George also died issueless in 1826. (fn. 146) The manor of Throckmorton then seems to have passed to his nephew Robert George Throckmorton, who was dealing with it in that year. (fn. 147) He succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his uncle Sir Charles in 1840, (fn. 148) and in 1862 the manor passed from him to his eldest surviving son Sir Nicholas William George Throckmorton, ninth baronet, who is now lord of the manor of Throckmorton. (fn. 149)
At the date of the Domesday Survey HILL (Hulla, xiii cent.; Hulle near Fladbury, xiv cent.) and MOOR was part of the 5 hides formerly belonging to Keneward held by Robert le Despenser of the Bishop of Worcester's manor of Fladbury. (fn. 150) Hill and Moor has apparently always been part of the manor of Fladbury. (fn. 151)
At the beginning of the 13th century an agreement was made between Henry son of John Throckmorton and Mauger Bishop of Worcester by which half a hide of land at Hill passed into the possession of Henry, who was to hold it of the bishop. (fn. 152) Henry afterwards granted a virgate of this land to William Heye for life, and in 1237–8 Richard and Adam Roland were in controversy as to the ownership of this estate, which Richard claimed as grandson of Henry Throckmorton. The suit was terminated in favour of Richard. (fn. 153) He died in 1254, (fn. 154) and his widow agreed with Richard Cristot in 1254–5 that a third of a tenement in Throckmorton and Hill which Emma held for life should revert to him on her death. (fn. 155) In the previous year Richard had agreed with the Bishop of Worcester that he should hold a carucate of land in Hill and elsewhere by suit at the bishop's court of Worcester, the bishop giving a warranty against the claims of Emma wife of Richard Roland for dower if she survived Richard. (fn. 156) The whole or part of the Rolands' estate at Hill afterwards passed to Simon Chamberlain, who had it in frank marriage by gift of Henry Roland. (fn. 157) The Chamberlains also held land in Hill and Fladbury under the Poers of Wichenford, (fn. 158) and it was probably this estate which Richard Poer held in Hill of the bishop's manor of Wick early in the 13th century. (fn. 159) Simon le Chamberlain was holding a virgate of land in Fladbury in 1221–2, (fn. 160) and Nicholas le Chamberlain held a so-called manor at Fladbury in 1291–2. (fn. 161) In 1299 Sir Simon le Chamberlain, brother and successor of Nicholas, (fn. 162) held 3 virgates of land in Fladbury and 1 in Hill of Sir John Poer, besides the halfhide which came to his family through the Rolands. (fn. 163) Sir Simon le Chamberlain still held an estate at Fladbury in 1301–2, (fn. 164) but the Chamberlains afterwards exchanged this land for that of John de Haseley in Wichenford. (fn. 165) Possibly this name should be Basely, for that family was already in possession of land at Fladbury. In 1278–9 Henry Basely was successful in proving his right to an estate there which he had inherited from his father Roger against Maud la Turre, (fn. 166) and in 1280 he paid a subsidy of half a mark at Fladbury. (fn. 167) This seems to have been the same estate which afterwards passed to the Sodingtons. (fn. 168) According to Habington, Richard de Sodington was at one time the owner. (fn. 169) In 1327 Isabel de Sodington paid a subsidy of 3s. 4d. in Fladbury, (fn. 170) and about 1337–8 William de Sodington and his wife Elizabeth bought an estate at Fladbury of the Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 171) Elizabeth died in 1371 holding a cottage called Baselond in Fladbury of the king for the service of a seventh part of a knight's fee, her heir being her daughter Isabel wife of Robert Aleyn. (fn. 172) Before this time, however, part of the estate held by the service of a tenth of a knight's fee had passed to Alexander de Besford. (fn. 173)
A parcel of land in Hill was forfeited in 1396 by Thomas Earl of Warwick. (fn. 174) The earl had granted it for life to his bastard brother John de Athereston, and the king granted the reversion in 1397 to Sir John Russell. (fn. 175)
An estate at Hill consisting of 2 hides was given by Bishop Samson (1096–1112) to Frederick or Freri de Bishopsdon. (fn. 176) William de Bishopsdon held the estate early in the 13th century, (fn. 177) and it followed the same descent as the manor of Waresley in Hartlebury (q.v.), passing with it to the Catesbys. (fn. 178) The estate at Hill and Moor was sold in 1501 by George Catesby to Robert Throckmorton. (fn. 179) The Throckmortons were dealing with land in Moor in 1558, (fn. 180) and the estate seems to have remained with them until about the middle of the 19th century, for Sir Charles Throckmorton was said to be lord of the so-called manor of Hill and Moor in 1832. (fn. 181) The manor-house is a 17th-century half-timber building with good panelled rooms. Cromwell is said to have slept here in 1651. It was acquired by Benjamin Johnson, town clerk of Worcester, before 1832. He died in 1835 and left it by his will to Thomas Henry Bund, whose grandson Mr. John Willis-Bund now holds it.
WYRE PIDDLE (Pidele, xi and xiii cent.; Wyre Pydele, xiv cent.; Wirepedill, Werpedell, xv cent.; Werepedyll, Wyre Pydle, xvi cent.; Wire Puddell, Warpdale, xvii cent.). At the date of the Domesday Survey Robert le Despenser held 5 hides at Wyre Piddle and Hill and Moor of the Bishop of Worcester's manor of Fladbury. (fn. 182) The overlordship of the bishop was still recognized at the end of the 13th century, but it afterwards seems to have lapsed. (fn. 183)
The manor followed the same descent as Elmley Castle until 1487–8, when it passed into the hands of Henry VII. (fn. 184) It remained in the Crown (fn. 185) until 1550, when it was granted by Edward VI to Ralph Sadleir and Lawrence Wenington. (fn. 186) They seem to have conveyed it to Bartholomew Hales, who sold it to John and Thomas Folliott in 1571. (fn. 187) John Folliott died on 7 March 1578 seised of the manor of Wyre Piddle, (fn. 188) which then passed with the manor of Stone in Halfshire Hundred (q.v.) in the Folliott family, and subsequently to the Courteens and Rushouts. (fn. 189) On the death of Sir James Rushout in 1711 this manor, instead of passing with Stone to his sister Elizabeth St. John, passed with the baronetcy to his uncle Sir John Rushout, and from that time followed the same descent (fn. 190) as Northwick Park in Blockley (q.v.). Lady Northwick, widow of George third Lord Northwick, held the manor until her death in 1912, when it passed by will to her grandson Mr. George Spencer Churchill.
The rent of £5 reserved from the manor of Wyre Piddle in the grant of 1550 was vested in trustees for sale in 1070–1. (fn. 191) It was sold by them in 1672 to John Jones of Whitehall, (fn. 192) and in 1807 it belonged to Frances Hearne Bettesworth. (fn. 193)
BRADLEY (Bradanleah, Bradanlege, viii cent.; Bradelege, xi cent.; Bradeleghe, xiii cent.), afterwards STOCK and BRADLEY. In the pontificate of Wilfrid (717–43) Ethelbald, King of Mercia, gave 6 cassates of land in Bradley to Cyneburh. (fn. 194) As this grant is included among the charters of the monastery of Worcester, (fn. 195) and Ethelbald is said to have given Bradley to the church, (fn. 196) it may be supposed that after Cyneburh's death these 6 cassates at Bradley passed to the see of Worcester.
At the famous Council of Celchyth in 789 Heathored, Bishop of Worcester, proceeded against Wulfheard, son of Cussa, who had endeavoured to deprive the church of land at Bradley which had been bequeathed to it by Hemele and Duda. The bishop proved his right to the lands, but agreed that Wulfheard should hold them for life, and that at his death they should be restored to the church where the bodies of Hemele and Duda were buried. (fn. 197)
In 962 Bishop Oswald granted to his servant Eadmaer the wood from Bradley necessary for the preparation of salt in four vats at Droitwich which belonged to certain land in Bentley which the bishop had granted to Eadmaer. (fn. 198) At the date of the Domesday Survey Aelfric the Archdeacon held a hide at Bradley of the bishop's manor of Fladbury. (fn. 199) The manor seems to have remained with the see of Worcester (fn. 200) until the reign of Edward VI, when by some means it passed to the Crown. Edward VI granted it in 1553 to John Earl of Bedford and Edmund Downing. (fn. 201) On 1 February 1554 Edmund sold it to Roger and Robert Taverner of London. (fn. 202)
The date at which the manor returned to the possession of the Bishops of Worcester is not known. It was perhaps before 1628, when an agreement was made by which the bishop and Sir William Sandys conveyed to the king 110 acres of the waste of Bradley in Feckenham Forest on condition that they should hold the remainder on certain terms. (fn. 203) In 1825 the Bishop of Worcester claimed the hamlet of Stock and Bradley as a member of his manor of Fladbury. (fn. 204) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who took over the estates of the see of Worcester in 1860, (fn. 205) are now the principal landowners in Stock and Bradley.
In the time of Henry II, Randolph son of Roger (of Rous Lench) held a hide of land at Bradley. (fn. 206) Roger son of Ralph de Lench gave the tithes of Bradley which belonged to the chapel of Chadwick to the hospital of St. Wulfstan, Worcester, his grant being confirmed in 1232 by the king. (fn. 207)
In the time of Bishop Baldwin (1180–90) Alured Levet claimed to hold of his nephew (nepos), the son of Ralph de Levet, a hide of land at Fladbury. (fn. 208) It was probably this estate which was held at the time of the Testa de Nevill by William of Bradley as a hide at Bradley. (fn. 209) An estate at Bradley belonged about the middle of the 13th century to the Walton or Wauton family. Master Simon de Walton purchased half a carucate of land in Bradley of Richard le Archer in 1244–5, (fn. 210) and in 1248–9 he acquired land there from John Copty, Stephen Alewy, Hugh de Seler, (fn. 211) Ralph de Eccleshal (fn. 212) and Ralph Marsh. (fn. 213)
In 1253 Master Simon obtained from Henry III a grant that his garden with the grove therein which he had caused to be inclosed in the circuit of his house at Bradley in the forest of Feckenham should remain inclosed, bounded by a hedge without a deer leap like a park, with the 'beasts of the wood' in the park if he liked. (fn. 214) Simon de Wauton appears to have been succeeded by John, who was dealing with land at Bradley in 1274–5, (fn. 215) and paid a subsidy of 8s. in 1280 at Bradley. (fn. 216) John de Wauton, who in 1294 obtained licence from Simon Bishop of Norwich to do homage to the chief lords for land in Bradley and elsewhere, (fn. 217) was perhaps son of John above mentioned. John Knight held a hide of land in Bradley in 1299, (fn. 218) and Robert Knight paid a subsidy of 1s. there in 1327. (fn. 219) In 1346 William Knight of Bradley was in possession of the land at Bradley which William de Bradley had held, (fn. 220) but it is not certain that this was the same estate as that held by the Wautons, and its further descent has not been traced.
In 1086 the priest at Fladbury held half a hide of land. (fn. 221) In 1772 the rector of Fladbury received an allotment in consideration of 70 acres which he held in Throckmorton as part of the RECTORY MANOR. (fn. 222) In 1788, when Fladbury was inclosed, he obtained a further allotment in consideration of his right of common in Fladbury belonging to the rectory manor. (fn. 223) Nash in his History of Worcestershire mentions that it was a custom of the rectory manor for the rector to grant for three lives and the widow to have her free bench. (fn. 224) The manorial rights have now apparently lapsed.
The church of ST. JOHN BAPTIST consists of a chancel 38½ ft. by 19½ ft., a modern north vestry and south organ chamber, nave 57 ft. by 20 ft., north aisle 9 ft. and south aisle 8½ ft. in width, south porch and a western tower 12½ ft. wide and 13½ ft. deep; all the measurements are internal.
A church stood here in the 12th century, but of this building only the tower remains, the three lower stages dating from that period; it was probably attached to an aisleless nave and chancel. About the year 1340 the whole of the pre-existing structure (except the tower) was swept away to make room for the new work. The present nave with both its aisles, and the chancel with a vestry to the north-east of it (which has now disappeared), were then erected, the clearstory being added immediately afterwards. The south porch was built with the south aisle, but it was refaced some time in the 17th century, and since that period has undergone restoration. A board in the ringing-chamber records that the steeple (fn. 225) was taken down and the parapet to the tower built in 1752, and that galleries were added in 1783 and 1824. Much restoration work has been carried out in modern times, chiefly in 1865 and 1871. The east and south walls of the chancel, the vestry and the organ chamber are all of recent date, as are also several of the windows and doorways and other parts specifically mentioned below. The present four-light east window replaced a seven-light one, probably itself of no great age; the gable wall over is pierced by a small quatrefoil opening. In the south wall is a modern double piscina in 14th-century style and a sedile formed by the window-ledge; the two windows in this wall, both modern, have each two lights with cusped piercings over in a pointed arch. There is also a small priest's doorway with a pointed head. On the north side is a 14th-century window of two lights with a cusped opening over in a pointed head. The doorway into the vestry appears to be of 14th-century workmanship, but has probably been reset, and has two continuous moulded orders. To the east of the vestry, outside, in the north wall of the chancel is an original 14th-century piscina, the basin of which has been removed. The chancel arch and the arch opening into the organ chamber are both modern.
The 14th-century nave arcades consist of four bays, the first three of each being of equal span and the fourth pair narrower. The arches are of two pointed chamfered orders, and the columns are octagonal with moulded bases and bell capitals; there are no respond shafts, the inner order springing from moulded corbels except at the north-west, where it dies on to the wall of the tower stair turret. The two eastern corbels are modern. The original doorway into the tower stair turret opens towards the east into the nave, but a modern one has been inserted in the west aisle wall outside. The tower arch has three continuous chamfered orders, and over it is a wide opening into the ringing chamber with a pointed segmental arch, which is evidently modern, as above it a similar arch is visible, now filled in. The clearstory has four windows on either side, of two lights each, with square heads; the westernmost pair are modern, the others original.
In the south wall of the south aisle next the arch opening into the modern organ chamber is a small locker with rebated edges, and west of it are the remains of a piscina with a concave back and pointed head. The two south windows of the aisle are both in part old, each with two lights in a square head. The south doorway has been completely modernized, and to the east of it is a small square blocked doorway, which evidently once opened to a stair leading to a room over the porch. The jambs only of the west window are old, and above it externally is a string-course, all modern except the piece at the south-west corner, carved with the head and shoulders of an angel. Above the string-course are remains of a blocked opening, probably connected with an 18th-century gallery. The south porch, although much repaired, is of the same date as the aisle and has a ribbed vault, springing from corner shafts with moulded bases and capitals. In the east wall is a window of two small lancets and in the west a quatrefoil window, both partly renewed. The outer archway appears to be an 18th-century rebuilding, and this again has been repaired in modern times. Over the doorway is a circular traceried piercing with a square moulded label. The front wall of the porch is finished with a curved pediment, capped by a pedestal sundial.
The tower is of four stages, the lowest being strengthened by shallow clasping and intermediate buttresses, the latter pierced by small round-headed lights, surrounded internally by large shallow recesses with pointed arches. The next two stages are both pierced by narrow rectangular lights, and on the west face of the third stage is a clock. Here the outlines of the former belfry windows can still be traced; these were evidently filled in when the tower was heightened. The top stage or bell-chamber is lit by a two-light window in each wall with a plain spandrel in a pointed arch. The parapet is embattled with a continuous coping, the lower part being panelled and the merlons pierced with trefoiled openings. At the angles are square panelled pinnacles with smaller ones in the centre of each face. The walling of the church is mainly of rubble, but the tower is ashlar faced and the clearstories, above the windows, are built of red brick.
The buttresses of the north aisle wall are original, but most of the others are modern. The roofs are also modern, the chancel and nave having low-pitched gables; the roof of the latter is ceiled. The aisle roofs are flat, lead covered, and plastered internally. All the roofs have eaves with stone cornices.
Under the tower is a large altar tomb of grey marble to John Throckmorton, who died in 1445, Eleanor his wife, and Thomas his son. It was moved from its former position in the chancel at the last restoration of the church. The sides of the tomb are panelled and the moulded plinth contains a band of quatrefoils. In the slab are the brass figures of a man in armour and a lady with five shields, one of which is missing; the other four have the arms of Throckmorton impaling Azure a fesse or with three pheons thereon. In the chancel floor is a slab with the half figure of a coped priest in brass and an inscription below to Thomas Mordon, Bachelor of Law and Treasurer of St. Paul's, London, a former rector of this church, who died in 1458. The arms in the shields over are a cheveron between two molets in the chief and a lion in the foot.
A second brass has a Latin inscription to William Plewine, M.A., rector, who died in 1504, whose figure is represented in mass vestments; and a brass inscription commemorates Olive wife successively of Edward Harris and John Talbot, who died in 1647.
At the west end of the nave is a brass to Edward Peyton, in armour, the figures of the wife and children with three shields being missing. Another undated Latin inscription is to Godytha (Bosom) wife of Robert Olney (her daughter Margaret married Thomas Throckmorton) surrounded by three reversed shields. The other monuments include one, in the vestry, to Bishop William Lloyd, 1707, and another in the south aisle to John Darby, 1609.
In the north-west window of the chancel are six shields of 14th-century glass, of the arms of Beauchamp, Mountford, Moigne, Mortimer, Montfort, and Despenser. They were removed from the east window to make way for the present stained-glass window, and are said to have come from the abbey of Evesham at the Dissolution. They are mentioned in Symond's Diary in 1644. (fn. 226)
The old communion plate was in 1801 removed to the chapels of Throckmorton and Wyre Piddle. (fn. 227)
The registers are as follows: (i) baptisms and marriages from 1560 to 1630, burials 1560 to 1629; (ii) baptisms and burials from 1630 to 1713, marriages 1630 to 1712, with gaps from 1640 to 1660 in this book; (iii) baptisms and burials from 1713 to 1803, marriages 1713 to 1753; (iv) marriages from 1754 to 1812; (v) baptisms and burials from 1804 to 1812.
The church of THROCKMORTON consists of a chancel 12½ ft. by 16 ft., a central tower 11½ ft. by 13½ ft., a nave about 45 ft. by 17½ ft., and a small south aisle 4½ ft. in width. These measurements are all internal.
The chancel is of the 13th century, but the tracery of the windows is all modern, the eastern being of three lights, with one of two lights in each side wall. The trefoiled piscina at the east end of the south wall has a square head with pierced spandrels and a half-octagonal bowl. The eastern arch of the contemporary central tower which is included within the chancel is of two chamfered orders, the outer order dying upon the walls and the inner springing from plain corbels. The western arch is similar, with the exception that the inner order also dies upon the face of the responds, and a little above its springing it is interrupted on both sides by large plain corbels which must have originally supported the rood-beam. In the south wall of the tower is a window of two trefoiled lights with modern tracery. The projecting chamfered course on the north and south walls evidently supported a floor below the level of the crowns of the arches.
In the north wall of the nave is a window of similar form to the east window of the chancel. The north doorway is of the 14th century and is of two chamfered orders. The south arcade of the nave is of five bays with two-centred arches of two plain chamfered orders and dates from the 13th century. The centre bay is considerably narrower than the rest. Above the columns where the labels, had they existed, would have intersected, are face-corbels. These have been recently placed in this position for their better preservation. They were formerly lying loose in the building, and had probably been detached from the fabric at some repair or restoration. The columns are quatrefoil on plan with moulded capitals and water-holding bases. The three-light west window dates from early in the 14th century.
Both aisle windows are modern. The south doorway is reset 14th-century work and has a chamfered two-centred head and jambs. The embattled tower is three stages high, with good gargoyles at the angles. The belfry is lighted by two-light windows, and the stage below by two small square-headed lights in the south wall.
Externally the chancel is built of coursed rubble with an intermixture of brick and tile. The walls of both chancel and nave have been heightened in brick. The nave and tower are both covered with rough-cast, and the south aisle is modern.
The tower contains four bells: the first is uninscribed, the second has fallen from its frame and is broken at the crown, the third is dated 1622 with the churchwardens' names, the fourth is cracked and inscribed,
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms from 1546 to 1717, marriages 1545 to 1717, and burials 1661 to 1717; (ii) baptisms from 1717 to 1812, burials 1721 to 1750, and marriages from 1718 to 1754.
The walls appear to follow the plan of a 12th-century building, but the whole structure has been rebuilt in modern times. The three-light east window is in 14th-century style with modern tracery and original jambs. In the north wall is a modern two-light window. The first window on the south side is of three lights in the style of the 14th century and the second is modern. In the same wall is set half of a 13th-century capital, used as a credence table, and a typical 12th-century pillar piscina, with square bowl. The chancel arch is round-headed, of one plain order, with a chamfered label, and springs from square chamfered impost mouldings. On each side of it is a square squint.
All the nave windows are modern restorations, there being three in the north wall and four in the south. The western pair are modern lancets; the remaining windows are each of two lights, the eastern pair having quatrefoil tracery. The north door is the only entrance to the nave, and is covered by a modern porch. The 15th-century west window is of two lights and contains some fine pieces of contemporary stained glass. The font is circular, with a moulded rim and cheveron ornament below. The stem and base are also circular, and beneath the bowl are fluted scallops. In a recess in the north wall are preserved some fragments of early work, with the boss of a shield and a light spearhead, discovered in the churchyard. There is also one of a pair of 14th-century candlesticks in the churchwarden's house. The chancel floor is largely paved with mediaeval tiles, the better preserved being within the altar rails.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: in one book, baptisms 1670 to 1709, burials 1680 to 1713, marriages 1684 to 1709. (fn. 228)
The church of ST. JOHN BAPTIST, Bradley, consists of a chancel, nave, north porch and north-east tower. The church was erected in 1864–5 on the site of a former building, which is stated by Nash to have been of timber with a wooden tower. (fn. 229) The materials are Inkberrow stone, and the design is in the style of the early 14th century. The east window of the chancel is of three lights with tracery over, and the nave is lighted from the west by a large rose-window. The tower is surmounted by a broach spire of stone. The north porch contains portions of two mediaeval tomb slabs. The earliest of these has a double cross with a wheel head, and probably dates from about 1300. The later and more elaborate slab has a cross approximating to the Maltese shape, and upon its stem a shield charged with three crosslets upon a bend. In the church is a monument from the former building to Joseph James, who died in 1776.
ST. THOMAS'S Church at Lower Moor was opened on 21 December 1869. It was built on a site given by Robert Wagstaff, and service is held there every Sunday afternoon by the rector and curates of Fladbury. Parish rooms at Fladbury, Moor and Wyre Piddle are used for meetings.
There was possibly a church at Fladbury in 1086, as there was then a priest there. (fn. 230) The advowson has always belonged to the see of Worcester. (fn. 231) In 1291 the church was valued at £26 13s. 4d. (fn. 232) In 1317 the Crown presented owing to the vacancy of the see of Worcester, (fn. 233) and in 1535 the presentation was granted to Thomas Cromwell and others on the petition of Thomas Bagard, LL.D., vicar-general of Worcester. (fn. 234) In 1535 the rectory of Fladbury, with the chapels attached to it, (fn. 235) was worth £81 0s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 236) In 1543 Christopher Hales, the rector, received a licence to travel abroad for seven years, and take with him one servant and two horses. (fn. 237)
On 14 May 1448 (fn. 238) Eleanor wife of John Throckmorton and her son Thomas obtained licence to found in the parish church of Fladbury a chantry of one chaplain to celebrate divine service daily at the altar of St. Mary. The chantry was to be called 'Throkmerton Chaunterie,' and Eleanor and Thomas were to endow it with rents to the value of £10 a year. (fn. 239) The advowson belonged to the lords of the manor of Throckmorton. (fn. 240) In 1535 the chantry was valued at £9 3s. 4d. (fn. 241) William Lane, the chantry priest, obtained licence in 1547 to grant all the lands belonging to the chantry to George Throckmorton. (fn. 242) Two years later the chantry was dissolved, and the chantry-house seems to have been granted to Stephen Hales, for he and his wife Joan conveyed a messuage called the Chantry House in 1553 to John Ayland, (fn. 243) and in 1588 the chantry of Fladbury was granted by the queen, at the request of Edward Dyer, to Edward Wymarke. (fn. 244) In 1601 it was granted to Robert Stanford or Stamford. (fn. 245)
There was an obit in the church in connexion with this chantry supported by a sum of 5s. from the endowment of the chantry. (fn. 246) There was also a rent of 4d. from an acre of land in Fladbury given for the maintenance of a lamp in the church. (fn. 247)
A chapel, to which the rectors of Fladbury presented, was in existence at Ab Lench as early as 1269, when the first presentation of which we have any record took place. (fn. 248) Presentations were made to this vicarage until 1419. (fn. 249) The remains of the chapel were visible in 1812, (fn. 250) and are still remembered by some of the inhabitants. Carlisle, writing in 1808, mentioned a demolished chapel. (fn. 251) Ab Lench was annexed to Church Lench for ecclesiastical purposes in 1865. (fn. 252)
The chapels of Throckmorton, Bradley and Wyre Piddle were mentioned in the Valor of 1535. (fn. 253) The chapels of Throckmorton and Wyre Piddle are still annexed to Fladbury. Bradley was separated from Fladbury in July 1862, (fn. 254) and the living was declared a rectory in 1866. (fn. 255) It is in the gift of the Bishop of Worcester.
1. The charity known as Holt's charity, consisting of £49 13s. 6d. consols, representing donations mentioned on the church table of £5 each by Miss Martin, Nicholas Perks and Mrs. Hester Jones, improved by offertories to £50.
The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, the annual dividends of which, amounting to £17 7s., were in 1908–9 applied in gifts of 4s. to 8s. among twenty-eight widows, 10s. each to two poor residents and other money gifts.
In 1825 the Rev. Martin Stafford Smith by deed gave a sum of £1,125 1s. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends, amounting to £28 2s. 4d., to be distributed in coals, bread and meat, and religious books to the poorest inhabitants of Fladbury, Hill and Moor, Wyre Piddle and Throckmorton on or about 23 December. Contributions to the income are made by residents, the distributions being made chiefly in coal by the rector and churchwardens, and Bibles, Prayer books and hymn books by the rector.
The Church Lands—referred to on the church table as the gift in 1403 of Thomas Wilcox and Grysels his wife, and devise by will of John Hopkins, 1710—now consist of 11 acres let in allotments, acquired by exchange on the inclosure in 1787 for other lands called the Cherry Orchard and Rick Ground; also 2 acres in the hamlet of Hill and Moor. The net rental of about £18 yearly is carried to the churchwardens' accounts.
Hamlet of Hill and Moor.
The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, the annual dividends of which, amounting to £11 18s., are applied proportionately in pursuance of the trusts of the respective charities. The distribution is made in bread and money in the month of January in each year, a preference being given to widows. In 1909 sixteen needy families benefited under Miss Ann Wagstaff's charity.
Chapelry of Stock and Bradley.
— The Poor's Land—referred to on the church table as the gift in 1621 of William Jones and in 1653 of Henry Collier—now consists of 2½ acres, known as the Parish Close, and two plots of garden land, containing together 1 acre, or thereabouts, of the annual rental value of £8 10s., which is applied in the distribution of bread, beef and coal.