A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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Knightwick is a parish containing 857 acres, of which 8 acres are covered with water, on the Herefordshire border of the county, on the right bank of the River Teme. Sapey Brook forms part of its western boundary. The Worcester and Bromyard branch of the Great Western railway passes through the parish and has a station called Knightwick station just outside the parish boundary on the east. Suckley station, on the southern boundary, is in this parish at Knightwick Row. Two roads branch off from the Bromyard road near Woodford House in the north of the parish. One branch passes over the Teme at Knightsford Bridge and leads north to Martley, and the other branch leads southwards past Knightwick station to Malvern. From the latter road a branch passes south-west to Knightwick Row, and is connected by a cross road with the village of Knightwick. At the south-east of the parish near Suckley station is an early 17th-century half-timber cottage of one story with an attic, known locally as 'the old house.' Adjoining it to the west is a cart-shed, also of halftimber. The village contains a few cottages and houses, of no architectural interest, the rectory, a mortuary chapel erected in 1879 on the site of the old church of St. Mary the Virgin and a graveyard. The present church of St. Mary the Virgin for this parish and Doddenham is at Knightsford Bridge in Doddenham and was built in 1856. The manorhouse, the residence of Mr. Thomas Lawson Walker, J.P., stands to the west of the village. It is a red brick two-story house of U plan with tiled roofs, built in the Queen Anne period partly on the foundations of an earlier 17th-century building. The entrance front is on the south-east, with the main doorway covered by a light wooden porch in the centre. The four angles of the main block are pilastered, while the windows are long and narrow and glazed with small square panes; at the ends and back of the house are blank window recesses designed to complete the symmetry of the elevation. Above the hipped roofs two chimneys rise from the centre of the main block and two from the ends of the projecting wings at the back. There is a cellar under the south part of the house, the two-light mullioned openings to which on the south side retain the sandstone dressings of the earlier building. The hall, which is entered directly from the main doorway, has the parlour and dining room on the south, some domestic apartments on the north, and the staircase on the west, with a modern addition at the back filling the space between the two wings. Above the hall fireplace there is a carved oak panelled chimney-piece of the latter half of the 17th century, the panels being divided by pairs of slender turned balusters supporting a cornice. The walls of the parlour are covered entirely with Jacobean panelling in small squares with a fluted frieze. A recess on the south flanked by fluted Ionic columns supporting a cornice surmounted by a broken curved pediment is contemporary with the rebuilding of the house in the Queen Anne period. At the back of this recess is a painting of four nude children, probably of contemporary date. The plaster ceiling is divided into four deep panels with moulded edges. Above the modern fireplace is a piece of carved oak overmantel of the Charles II period. The stairs to the first floor are modern, but above there is an early 18th-century dog-legged stair with a moulded handrail and turned balusters.
The scenery of the valley where the River Teme has broken its way through the hills is very beautiful. The hills are usually rounded and wooded, but in places precipitous cliffs fall straight to the river as at Rosebury Rock. To the north are some old brickworks.
The north of the parish lies in the valley of the Teme, but the land rises rapidly to the south, reaching a height of 400 ft. above the ordnance datum at the south-eastern boundary. In 1905 Knightwick contained 290 acres of arable land and 487 of permanent grass. (fn. 1) The subsoil is Keuper Sandstone, the soil loam, clay and marl, producing crops of wheat, beans, fruit and hops.
Kenswick, formerly a chapelry of Knightwick and an extra-parochial district, became a separate parish in 1857. (fn. 2) It lies to the south-east of Wichenford, and is separated from Knightwick by the parishes of Lulsley and Broadwas. It contains 425 acres, of which 96 are arable land, 276 permanent grass and 21 woodland. (fn. 3)
The Tenbury and Worcester high road passes through it, and Kenswick House, the seat of the Hon. Mrs. Britten, on the south side of this road, and the Kedges on the north are the only two houses of any importance in the parish. Kenswick House is a stuccoed three-story building dating probably from the early 17th century, but so modernized inside and out that it is difficult to say of what the original house consisted. The lower parts of two brick chimney stacks surmounted by square shafts, which belong to the rooms on either side of the entrancehall, are of the original date. The dining room, which is contained in a projecting wing on the northeast, is lined with Jacobean panelling brought here from Wichenford Court. The elaborate oak overmantel has a carved shield upon it, which suggests that it may have been erected by Anthony Washbourne (d. 1573) or his son John (d. 1633), but the heraldry is not quite clear. Various modern additions have been made at the rear, the present kitchen and offices being contained in a projecting wing on the east, and a billiard room in a corresponding wing on the west. A stable to the southwest of the house occupies the site of a Roman Catholic chapel; some parts of the original brick walls appear to be incorporated in the present building. Portions of the original moat remain, out of which the two ponds to the south-east of the house are formed. The road is carried over the Laughern Brook, which forms the southern boundary of Kenswick, at Pig Bridge.
Seventeenth-century place-names which have been found in connexion with Knightwick are Dales, Hollowe Orchard, Stitching Furlong, Coppearn Grove, the Lakes, the Holmes, Howley, Wallcroft. (fn. 4)
Amongst the manors said to have been freed for the monks of Worcester by King Edgar in 964 from all royal exactions Knightwick was included. (fn. 5) At this time and in 1086 it formed part of the manor of Grimley, (fn. 6) and so was probably included in the grant of Grimley to the church of Worcester by Beorhtwulf, King of Mercia, in 851. (fn. 7) The manor was assigned to the support of the monks, and had been leased by them to a certain Eadgyth, a nun, who held it, performing the services due for it, as long as the brethren could dispense with it. In the time of King William, however, their number increased and Eadgyth restored the manor to them. She was living at the time of the Domesday Survey and was willing to testify to this. At the time of the Survey, however, the hide of Knightwick was in the hands of Robert le Despenser, brother of Urse the Sheriff. This hide rendered in the manor of Grimley sac and soc and all services due to the king. (fn. 8)
Like most of the rest of Robert's possessions in Worcestershire, Knightwick passed to Walter de Beauchamp, son-in-law of Urse the Sheriff. (fn. 9) The overlordship remained with Walter's descendants the Earls of Warwick, the manor being held of their honour of Elmley, (fn. 10) but the overlordship is not mentioned after 1325.
Walter de Beauchamp apparently held the manor in demesne in the time of Henry I. (fn. 11) From this time until about 1280 the history of the sub-tenants of this manor is very obscure. In 1220–1 John Clerk and his sister Julia released to Henry Fitz Ralph all their claim in a virgate of land at Knightwick, (fn. 12) and in 1255 Auda widow of Godfrey de Gamages granted the manor of Knightwick to William de la Were. (fn. 13) William died in 1269, and his brother Peter succeeded to the estate, (fn. 14) which he apparently held in 1274–5. (fn. 15) These deeds do not appear to refer to the capital manor of Knightwick, which was probably already in 1274–5 in the possession of the Prior of Great Malvern. (fn. 16) The prior probably derived his title from the family of Mans, who held the chapel of Knightwick in the 12th century and endowed the priory of Little Malvern with land at Knightwick towards the end of that century. (fn. 17) Simon de Mans, the benefactor of Little Malvern Priory, had two sons Walter and William. Walter, the elder son, had a son William, who died childless, a daughter, Avice wife of Bartholomew Marshall, and a second daughter, who married Walter Mapnor and had a son Walter. (fn. 18) The estate at Knightwick evidently passed to the Mapnors, and was given by Walter de Mapnor or his daughter Lucy to the Prior of Great Malvern before 1274–5. (fn. 19) Lucy apparently still lived at Knightwick or held some estate there in 1280, for she paid 12d. in that year towards the lay subsidy, while the Prior of Great Malvern paid 20s. (fn. 20) In 1283 the manor was given by the Prior of Great Malvern to Bishop Godfrey Giffard in compensation when the title of Westminster to Great Malvern was finally settled. (fn. 21)
The bishop leased the manor in 1318 to Master Peter Fillol, rector of the church of Martley, (fn. 22) and in 1324–5 to John Collan for life. (fn. 23) It was again leased in 1336 for the lives of William de Massington and Agnes his wife. (fn. 24) In 1460–1 the bishop leased the site of the manor to Thomas Romney of Lulsley, Isabel his wife and John their son for a term of seventy years. (fn. 25) The manor was valued at £8 in 1535. (fn. 26) It was confiscated by Edward VI (fn. 27) on Bishop Heath's deprivation in 1552 and was granted in the following year to Lord Robert Dudley and his heirs and William Glasyer. (fn. 28) Lord Robert Dudley was attainted and sentenced to death in the same year for taking the part of Lady Jane Grey, and though he was pardoned in October 1554 (fn. 29) this manor seems to have remained in the Crown until 1560. (fn. 30) It was among the manors taken from the bishopric by Queen Elizabeth under the Act of 1558–9, which enabled her to take into her hands certain of the temporalities of any bishopric which fell vacant, recompensing the value with parsonages impropriate. (fn. 31)
Lord Robert Dudley was restored in blood in March 1557–8 and created Earl of Leicester in 1564. (fn. 32) The manor of Knightwick must have been restored to him, (fn. 33) and his and William Glasyer's interest passed to Sir Richard Sackville, whose son Thomas Sackville Lord Buckhurst sold the manor in 1568 to Lancelot Romney. (fn. 34) Lancelot died seised of it in 1595, when it passed to his son John, (fn. 35) to whom livery was made in 1605. (fn. 36) It was probably this John who was outlawed for felony and murder in January 1628. By an inquisition taken in 1630 it was found that John on the day of his outlawry was seised for life of a capital messuage and land in Knightwick. This estate was granted in September 1630 to Thomas Cooke during the lifetime of John Romney. (fn. 37) John was evidently restored, for he died seised of the manor about 1640, when it passed to his son Lancelot. (fn. 38) Lancelot died in 1643, leaving a son John, aged eleven, and three years after the estate was sequestered for Lancelot's delinquency in arms. In 1648 John Evett, grandfather and guardian of John Romney, begged to compound for the estate, but before the sum could be raised Evett was imprisoned for debt in Worcester Castle. The guardianship of the child passed to Henry son of John Evett, and he in March 1651 offered to pay the debt. When Charles came to Worcester in 1651 John Romney joined his standard, under compulsion, as he stated, by the Scotch soldiers quartered at his uncle's house. Though he did not take part in the battle his estate was forfeited, and when in 1659 his property was ordered to be sequestered for his complicity in Sir George Booth's rising it was found that it was already sequestered for his engagement with the Scots. (fn. 39)
In 1666 John Romney and Elizabeth his wife, William Robbins and John his wife, Henry Evett and Francis Powle sold the manor of Knightwick to Thomas Foley. (fn. 40) His grandson Thomas Foley was created Lord Foley of Kidderminster in 1712, (fn. 41) and the manor descended with the title (fn. 42) until 1830 (fn. 43) or later. It must soon after have been purchased by John Williams of Pitmaston, from whom it passed under a settlement made in 1838 to his son Francis Edward Williams. He was lord of the manor until his death in 1885, (fn. 44) when the estate passed to his son John Francis, who assumed the additional surname Greswolde. He died without issue in 1892, having devised the manor to his nephew Francis Wigley Greswolde Greswolde-Williams of Bredenbury Court, Herefordshire. (fn. 45)
At the time of the Domesday Survey a hide of land at KENSWICK (Checinwiche, xi cent.; Kekingwyk, xiii and xiv cent.; Kekonwyche, Kekynwych, xv cent.; Kengewyk, xvi cent.), which formed part of the manor of Wick Episcopi, was held by Urse. (fn. 46) His heirs the Beauchamps, afterwards Earls of Warwick, held the overlordship as part of their honour of Elmley, and it followed the same descent as that honour. (fn. 47) William Savage at the end of the 16th century claimed the wardship of Giles Blount, forcing the latter's friends to compound with him for this right, (fn. 48) but this appears to have been the last occasion on which the rights of overlordship were exercised.
Wulfwine is the earliest known tenant of Kenswick, but before 1086 he had been succeeded by a certain Walter. (fn. 49) Walter de Kekingwik occurs in 1205, (fn. 50) and held 2½ hides at Kenswick in the time of Henry III, (fn. 51) and it may be assumed that Sir Walter de Kekingwik, who was patron of the church in 1270, (fn. 52) was also lord of the manor. Walter was succeeded apparently by John de Kekingwik, and it may have been this John and his son William who were keepers of the king's goshawks in 1306. (fn. 53) John died about 1316, and his son William inherited the property, which then consisted of a messuage and a carucate of land at Kenswick. (fn. 54) It was probably this William de Kekingwick who was rewarded in 1339 for good service at Carisbrooke Castle and was custodian of the port of Yarmouth in the Isle of Wight in 1340. (fn. 55) John de Kekingwik held a fourth and a twentieth part of a knight's fee in Kenswick and Eastbury in 1346, and Walter de Hoklington held a tenth of a fee at Kenswick. (fn. 56) John presented to the chapel of Kenswick in 1361, (fn. 57) but Alice Spelly, lady of Kenswick, presented in the following year. William Vallet presented in 1366 (fn. 58) and styled himself lord of Kenswick in 1366–7. (fn. 59) It would seem that Alice and William must have held the manor during the lifetime of John de Kekingwik, for his daughters and co-heirs were minors in the custody of Thomas Earl of Warwick when the latter forfeited his possessions in 1396, (fn. 60) and the inquisition on John's possessions, which included Kenswick Manor, was taken in 1397, though the date of his death is not given. (fn. 61) In 1411–12 John Aston, clerk, conveyed the manor, which was then held for life by William Yoxhale, to Fulk Stafford, clerk. (fn. 62) William Yoxhale was still holding the manor in 1428, (fn. 63) but it had passed before 1431 to Sir Humphrey Stafford of Grafton, (fn. 64) nephew of Fulk Stafford, mentioned above. (fn. 65) Sir Humphrey was slain in Jack Cade's Cade's rebellion in 1449–50, (fn. 66) and by his will dated 1442 he had bequeathed Kenswick to his son Sir Humphrey. (fn. 67) The latter was attainted and executed in 1485, and his lands became forfeited to the king. (fn. 68) The manor of Kenswick was granted by Henry VII in 1486 to John Darell and John Pympe in tail-male. (fn. 69) Pympe died in 1496, leaving a son Henry, two years of age. (fn. 70) He died in 1518, and the property reverted to Sir Humphrey Stafford, son of the attainted Sir Humphrey, who had been restored to favour by Henry VIII in 1514–15. (fn. 71) Sir John Darell died in 1509, leaving a son and heir John, (fn. 72) but this part of the manor was also restored to Sir Humphrey Stafford. (fn. 73) It is doubtful whether John Darell was ever recompensed, for in 1515 he found it necessary to obtain a pardon for all entries on the manor of Kenswick. (fn. 74) Sir Humphrey Stafford died in 1546, (fn. 75) and his son Humphrey sold the manor in 1565 to George Blount. (fn. 76) Francis son of George died during the lifetime of his father, his son Giles inheriting the manor from his grandfather George while still a minor. (fn. 77) It was the wardship of this boy which was claimed by William Savage. (fn. 78) Giles Blount was indicated in 1633 at quarter sessions for neglecting to repair the highway from Martley which passed through his estate, and three years later he was presented on account of the ruinous state of Blackmore Bridge. (fn. 79) Giles died about 1650, (fn. 80) when he was succeeded by his son Robert Blount, (fn. 81) who sold the manor in 1669 to Robert Foley. (fn. 82) The latter died about 1676 and was succeeded by his son Robert, (fn. 83) who conveyed the manor in 1679 to Roger North, probably for a settlement on his marriage with Anne daughter of Dudley Lord North. (fn. 84) Robert was succeeded by his eldest son North Foley in 1702. (fn. 85) He died in 1727, when the manor passed to his son Thomas Talbot Foley, (fn. 86) who died without issue, the manor passing to his sister Anne before 1789. (fn. 87) In that year she and Francis Plowden conveyed the manor to James Seton and others. (fn. 88) The manor was purchased about 1872 by Daniel Britten, who was succeeded in 1892 by his son Rear-Admiral Richard Frederick Britten, J.P. On his death in 1910 the manor passed to his widow, the Hon. Mrs. Britten, the present owner.
An estate at Knightwick afterwards called PITHOUSE was apparently held of the Despensers, for Thurstan Despenser and Alda Bluet his mother confirmed a grant of the estate to the Prior and convent of Little Malvern, and apparently thereby renounced their overlordship, as nothing further is heard of it. (fn. 89)
Under the Despensers the land was held by Simon Mans, who granted it towards the end of the 12th century, as a virgate of land in Knightwick which had belonged to Robert de la Putte, to the Prior and convent of Little Malvern. (fn. 90)
The estate remained in the possession of the Priors of Little Malvern until the Dissolution, when it passed to the Crown. (fn. 91) It was granted in 1544 to William and Francis Sheldon, and then consisted of a messuage called 'Pyte-house' and a virgate of land and a grove called 'Pytegrove.' (fn. 92) William and Francis sold it in the same year to John Alderfull or Alderford, (fn. 93) who died seised of it in 1556, leaving a son John his heir. (fn. 94) John Alderford sold the Pithouse in 1578 to John Washbourne, (fn. 95) who obtained licence to alienate it in 1587 to Roland Berkeley, (fn. 96) but it had passed before 1617 to Simon Clent, who died seised of it in that year, leaving as his heir his nephew John son of his brother William. (fn. 97) It is probable that at about this time Pithouse became annexed to the manor of Mapnors (q.v.), for further references to it have not been found.
An estate called the manor or capital messuage of MAPNORS in Knightwick was held by John Alderford at the time of his death in 1556. It was held as of Elmley Castle, (fn. 98) and, from its name, had evidently been held at one time by the Mapnors, once lords of Knightwick. Habington states that the Alderfords came into possession of this manor by the marriage of Walter Alderford, father of John (the purchaser of Pithouse), with Joan daughter and heir of Thomas Brooke of Knightwick. (fn. 99) The manor passed with Pithouse to John Clent, (fn. 100) and belonged in 1802 to Lord Foley, (fn. 101) but does not now exist.
The first mention of a mill at Knightwick occurs in 1630, when a water grain-mill on the Teme was granted with the capital messuage of Knightwick to Thomas Cooke. (fn. 102) Ten years later this mill is described as a water-mill on the brook of Thunder near Knightwick. (fn. 103) There is now a corn-mill, called Knightwick Mill, on the Teme in the north of the parish.
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN, built in 1856 at Knightsford Bridge in Doddenham, serves for both Knightwick and Doddenham, and will be described with the latter parish, which is in the hundred of Doddingtree.
The site of the previous church is on a small hill about a mile to the east of Knightsford Bridge. It was an old black and white timbered structure with a fine wooden porch, and was pulled down by John Francis Greswolde-Williams in 1879, and a mortuary chapel built on its site in the churchyard. On the floor of the chapel is a portion of the circular bowl of a 12th-century font with wide lines of zigzag ornament. On the west walls are slabs from the previous church to Grace and Dorothy Lane of Bentley, Staffordshire, who died in 1721, and are said to be sisters of Jane Lane, who did so much to secure the escape of Charles II after the battle of Worcester.
The plate consists of a silver cup of 1676, inscribed 'Knightwick Chalice 1676,' a cover paten of the same date, a paten of 1874, a flagon of 1882, a bread-knife with an agate handle, a plated almsdish, a pewter almsdish, and one of tin There is no separate plate for Doddenham.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1539 to 1687, burials 1617 to 1687, marriages 1542 to 1684; (ii) baptisms 1695 to 1812, burials 1702 to 1812, marriages 1695 to 1753; and (iii) marriages 1756 to 1811.
The advowsons of the chapels of Knightwick and Doddenham were given by Simon de Mans about 1177 to the Prior and convent at Worcester for the souls of his father and mother and himself. (fn. 104) This grant was confirmed by Roger 1164–79, (fn. 105) Robert 1191–3, (fn. 106) and Henry 1193–5, Bishops of Worcester, and by William de Mans, grandson of the donor, in 1231. (fn. 107) The advowson remained in the possession of the Prior and convent until the Dissolution, (fn. 108) when it passed to the Crown. It was granted in 1542 to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, (fn. 109) and confirmed to them in 1609 by James I, (fn. 110) and has since remained in their possession. (fn. 111)
The living is united with that of Doddenham, the union having perhaps taken place about 1655, when it was found by inquisition that the cure of Knightwick was always supplied by the minister of Doddenham, and that the two churches were 'neere about equal bigness, and fit to be united together.' (fn. 112)
The chapel of Kenswick was subject to the church of St. Helen, Worcester, (fn. 115) in the 11th century. The advowson has always belonged to the lords of the manor, (fn. 116) but it is not mentioned in deeds of conveyance of the manor after 1411–12, though the site of the chapel is mentioned in such deeds until 1669. (fn. 117) The last presentation to the chapel was made in 1415 by William Yoxhale, (fn. 118) but Nash notes that Anthony Moggridge was incumbent of Kenswick in 1675. (fn. 119) In 1782 the chapel was in ruins, but fifty years before service was performed in the chapel once a month, the owner of Kenswick paying £10 a year. (fn. 120) The chapel was taken down about 1860. (fn. 121)
A pension from the chapel was paid yearly to the Prior and convent of Worcester until the Dissolution. (fn. 122) This pension was granted in 1542 to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester. (fn. 123) By an Order in Council 25 October 1898, to take effect on the next voidance of the benefice, Kenswick became part of Wichenford for ecclesiastical purposes. (fn. 124) The order took effect in 1908, but since 1910 Kenswick has been part of the new ecclesiastical parish of Broadheath, formed in that year from Hallow, Wichenford, and St. John's, Worcester.
This parish is entitled to receive as stated in the church table, 20s. a year from land in Much Marcle, co. Hereford, under the gift of the Rev. Isaac Ailway. This sum was applicable in the purchase of coats for three poor men.
The charities of John Francis Greswolde-Williams.
—In 1890 John Francis Greswolde-Williams by deed founded six almshouses situated in the parish of Doddenham, and endowed the same with £6,000 2½ per cent. annuities, four of the almshouses to be allotted to residents of Knightwick and Doddenham, or either of them, and two to residents in the chapelry of Lulsley.
The same donor erected a residence for a nurse for poor sick persons resident in the same three parishes, but died without completing a conveyance to trustees. In 1893 the premises were daly conveyed by Thomas Suckling, who, in conjunction with Agnes Elizabeth Baynton, provided a sum of £2,040 15s. 10d. 2½ per cent. annuities as an endowment fund, producing £51 a year.
The same donor, by his will proved at Worcester 12 August 1892, bequeathed £1,000, the interest to be distributed to the poor of Knightwick and Doddenham on 23 October yearly, in the form of orders upon tradesmen, or in the form of money for paying rent. The legacy was invested in £1,030 18s. 7d. consols with the official trustees, producing £25 15s. 4d. yearly, which is applied chiefly in providing flannel petticoats and serge gowns.
The official trustees also hold a sum of £1,030 18s. 7d. consols, representing a legacy by the will of the same testator, for the benefit of the Church of England school at Doddenham, in the hundred of Doddingtree.