A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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The parish of Harvington lies on the eastern boundary of the county. It is divided from Warwickshire by a tributary of the River Avon, (fn. 1) forming the greater part of the eastern and northern boundaries of the parish. The Avon itself bounds it on the south and east, while one of its tributaries, flowing south-east, forms the western boundary. There is a ferry across the Avon in the extreme south of the parish.
The area of Harvington is 1,310 acres, (fn. 2) of which 780 are arable, 383 permanent grass and 2 acres are woodland. (fn. 3) The village of Harvington stands at a height of some 100 ft. to 150 ft. above the ordnance datum. To the north-west the land rises slightly, attaining near the northern border a height of 200 ft. The soil is sand, with a subsoil of gravel and Keuper Marl, and the chief crops are wheat, barley and beans.
Harvington village spreads over a series of steep and irregular slopes, the houses being scattered along several by-roads. The roads run between banks and hedges, and the country is wooded close to the village. (fn. 4) The church stands prominently on a ridge at the meeting of three roads, the rectory in wooded ground on the west at the foot of the hill. In the village are several houses of 15th and 16th-century date, the half-timber work being well preserved.
Adjoining the churchyard on the south-east is Harvington Manor, a fine two-storied house of stone and half-timber, dating in part from the 14th century, but much altered by the insertion, probably in the 17th century, of new floors and partitions. The floors throughout appear to be hung up by iron straps to the tie-beams of the roof principals. The original arrangement of the plan seems to have consisted of a large open hall on the north with a two-storied block of buildings on the south. The position of the original screens is marked by a passage across the house, and the present door on the east is a later opening. The walls of the ground story are of stonerubble masonry, the first floor being of half-timber construction. The roof is covered with stone slates. Two of the original window openings with their moulded oak mullions still remain. The entrance doorway at the north-east of the original hall still retains its moulded frame and door of oak. To the north of the entrance is a central newel stair, probably of later date, leading to the loft over this portion of the house. A little to the north of the house, immediately adjoining the churchyard on the east, is a fine pigeon-house of rubble masonry lined internally with stone cells and having a ridge roof covered externally with stone slates. This is probably contemporary with the house, and is an extremely fine example. In the garden of the rectory, an old house with modern additions, are portions of early 14th-century tracery, removed from the east window of the church at the time of its restoration.
In 1868 there was a curious old custom still observed at Harvington; the children used to go round to all the houses on St. Thomas's Day and St. Valentine's Day repeating a doggerel rhyme as follows (fn. 5):—
Thomas James, head master of Rugby School, was presented in 1797 to the rectory of Harvington, where he died in 1804. (fn. 8)
A bronze celt was found in the ditch which divides Harvington from Warwickshire. (fn. 9)
The following place-names occur in the 17th century: Harfordes, Mowes, the Meere, Hingle, Bitton, Portway Peece, Haynes Close, and Sherrowes. (fn. 10) Wistanes Brycge, Heopanhylle, Hunighommesstreote, Caersawealla are places mentioned on the boundaries of Harvington in an Anglo-Saxon charter. (fn. 11)
In 799 Balthun Abbot of Kempsey gave to King Coenwulf of Mercia, in return for privileges for his house, 12 'manentes' at 'Hereford.' (fn. 12) At the beginning of the 9th century Deneberht, Bishop of Worcester (798–822), gave 2 cassates of land at HARVINGTON to Eanswyth for her life on condition that if she survived him it should pass to the church of Worcester after her death. (fn. 13) Harvington is included in King Edgar's spurious charter of 964, granting the hundred of Oswaldslow to the church (fn. 14) of Worcester. At the date of the Domesday Survey Harvington, which then included Wiburgestoke, was held by the monks of Worcester. (fn. 15) In 1207 they let it at a farm of 24 marks and 12 quarters of oats to the men of the vill for twelve years. (fn. 16) This lease was renewed in 1230 for ten years. (fn. 17) In 1240 the annual money rents from the manor amounted to £2 14s. 10d. (fn. 18) In 1254 the prior leased the manor to Simon de Wauton, afterwards Bishop of Norwich. (fn. 19)
At about this time John D'Abitot made an exchange with the monks of Worcester of 4 acres of land for a part of a messuage in Harvington, and a case (fn. 20) in which this John appears was taken at the Worcester Eyre of 1254. Roger de Pershore and Marchia his wife complained to the judges that on the Thursday before St. Peter ad Vincula last certain strangers had stolen away Maud their daughter and abandoned her at Harvington, where John D'Abitot kept her at his house against her will. John D'Abitot, however, denied any fault of his. On the Thursday he was leaving his courtyard at Harvington, when he heard a great noise, and on looking for the cause beheld a monk and some Welshmen dragging along an unwilling girl who made a great outcry. Seeing D'Abitot her captors fled and she, left alone, begged him for shelter. This he willingly gave her till she could return to her own friends. The girl confirmed the story; so the parents, who had sued the rescuer for 100s., went disappointed away.
In the Taxation of 1291 Harvington was included with Cleeve Prior. (fn. 21) After the dissolution of the priory in 1540 (fn. 22) the manor of Harvington was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester in 1542, (fn. 23) and was confirmed to them in 1609. (fn. 24) On 23 June 1641 they granted it to Kempe Harward for three lives, but in 1652 the commissioners for the sale of the dean and chapter lands sold it to Thomas Bound. (fn. 25) He still held in 1658, (fn. 26) but at the Restoration the manor was recovered by the dean and chapter, (fn. 27) and remained with them until 1859, (fn. 28) when it was taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In 1862 the commissioners sold to the trustees of the Duc D'Aumale the reversion of certain leasehold land and the lord's interest in some copyhold land and a fishery in the Avon. (fn. 29) This estate has since passed with Bishampton Manor (q.v.) to Sir Charles Swinfen Eady.
At the date of the Domesday Survey there was a mill at Harvington which was worth 10s. a year. (fn. 30) This mill was granted by David, Prior of Worcester (1143–5), to William Rupe at a yearly rent of 17s. and 30 'stiches' of eels, (fn. 31) and in 1212 was the subject of a lawsuit between Thomas Rupe and his wife Joan and Richard and Hugh Sandford and their wives Maud and Olivia. It was finally settled by Thomas Rupe acknowledging the right of the Sandfords to the mill, while they yielded to him certain lands which were part of his mother's dowry. (fn. 32) In 1294–5 an agreement was made between William Lench and Alice his wife, on the one hand, and Henry de Chester, John his son and Henry Austyn on the other, (fn. 33) concerning mills in Harvington, which may have been those acquired by the prior and convent from Henry Austyn of Sandford in 1311. (fn. 34) After the dissolution of the priory both these mills passed to the dean and chapter, who sold them to George Willoughby in 1549–50. (fn. 35) In 1818 cornmills at Harvington were advertised for sale, a paper-mill there being at that time held under a lease for thirty years by a Mr. Phillips. (fn. 36) There is still a mill in the parish to the south of the village, and near it is a weir which is said to have been repaired with fragments and even some of the statues from Evesham Abbey. (fn. 37)
The church of ST. JAMES consists of a chancel measuring internally 32 ft. by 20½ ft., south vestry, nave 25 ft. by 40 ft., north porch, and west tower 9 ft. by 9½ ft. The earliest existing remains belong to the 12th century or earlier, and the church at that date was considerably smaller than the present building, the nave being about 16 ft. wide. The extreme height of the early nave, the west wall of which is still clearly visible, would even suggest a pre-Conquest date, but the earliest detail, that of the tower (which has been rebuilt in recent years), is of the first quarter of the 12th century. Early in the 14th century the whole church was rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, and enlarged to its present dimensions. The east window was replaced by a modern one at a recent restoration, and the tower was largely restored and crowned with a modern timber spire.
The three-light east window is modern, replacing a 14th-century window, the remains of which are in the vicarage garden. On either side of the chancel are three single-light windows, of 14th-century date, with trefoiled heads. At the east end of the south wall is a curious 14th-century piscina with a trefoiled head and an abnormal development of the cusps into a thin stone shelf. There is no sedile, but the sill of the south-east window was originally carried down to form a seat. The north door to the chancel and the pointed chancel arch of two chamfered orders both date from the 14th century.
In the east wall of the nave is a small image bracket and at the east end of both north and south walls appear the sockets for the rood beam. The nave is lit by four 14th-century windows, each of two lights with traceried heads, and though all are of similar detail the eastern one in the south wall is of notably finer design. There are 14th-century north and south doors to the nave, the latter blocked, with chamfered jambs and heads and labels with curiously mitred drips. The north porch is modern. The circular tub-font at the west end of the nave is of doubtful date. The west wall of the nave bears clear traces of the earlier church, the line of the nave walls and the pitch of the roof being quite distinct. There is also a blocked-up square door which must originally have opened on to a western gallery and above this is a small round-headed window, originally external.
The door between tower and nave is of late 12th-century date with a plain slightly pointed arch of two square orders and chamfered capitals. The early 12th-century west window is a single deeply splayed light with a round head. The original belfry windows in the second stage of the tower are of two roundheaded lights, the mullion taking the form of a column. The broach spire, added in 1855, is covered with oak shingles. On the west wall of the nave are two monuments, to Thomas Ferriman, who died in 1619, and to Thomas his son, both rectors of the church.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms from 1573 to 1733, burials 1570 to 1731, marriages 1570 to 1729 (1633 to 1660 missing); (ii) baptisms from 1653 to 1690, burials 1653 to 1687, marriages 1678 to 1687 in a dilapidated minute book; (iii) baptisms and burials from 1734 to 1812, marriages 1734 to 1752; (iv) marriages from 1755 to 1812.
According to the register of Worcester Priory, Deneberht, Bishop of Worcester, gave the church of Harvington to the priory at the same time as he gave the manor. (fn. 38)
The prior and convent were the patrons until the Dissolution. (fn. 39) After the dissolution of the priory the advowson was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester in 1542 (fn. 40) and confirmed to them in 1609. (fn. 41) The dean and chapter have made the presentations (fn. 42) ever since, and are still the patrons of the church of Harvington.
A cottage at Harvington given for the maintenance of lights in the church was valued at 3s. 4d. at the time of the dissolution of the chantries. (fn. 43)
The eleemosynary charities are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners 6 May 1884. They comprise the charities of (1) William Chaunce (fn. 44) and others, trust fund, £120 consols, representing the gifts of various donors mentioned on the church table; (2) Mrs Lydia Ward, gift in 1841, trust fund, £22 7s. 4d. consols, and (3) Mrs. John Marshall, gift in 1857, trust fund, £26 18s. 7d. consols. The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, producing £4 4s. 8d. yearly, of which in 1909 £2 4s. 8d. was distributed in coal and £2 was paid as bonuses to clothing and boot clubs.
In 1887 the Rev. Arthur Henry WinningtonIngram, by his will proved at London 16 April, bequeathed £100, now £100 consols, with the official trustees, the annual dividend of £2 10s. to be applied in memory of Mrs. WinningtonIngram in adornment of the churchyard with trees, shrubs and flowers and in maintaining the churchyard in beautiful order.
A reading room with site was by deed dated 3 September 1887 conveyed to trustees by Mrs. Winnington-Ingram in memory of her husband, the Rev. Arthur Henry Winnington-Ingram, for the use of the parishioners.