A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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Oddingley is pleasantly situated about 3½ miles to the south-east of Droitwich on the slopes of a valley through which run the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and the Bristol and Birmingham branch of the Midland railway, which has a goods station at Dunhampstead, but no passenger station at Oddingley. A road from Droitwich to Huddington passes through the north of the parish, and another road connects the village of Oddingley with Droitwich.
The village is in the centre of the parish, and besides the church of St. James and Church Farm contains brick and tile works on the canal. The old rectory is about half a mile from the church to the north-west. The present rectory and the school are at some distance from the village to the north on the Droitwich road.
The church lies a little to the south of the by-road along which the main part of the village is built, and is surrounded by a small churchyard. Immediately to the south-east of the church is a farm-house of brick and half-timber, which appears to date from about 1600. It is of two stories with attics, and latterly has been divided up into three cottages. In the meadow adjoining is a fine dovecote of half-timber work, rectangular in plan, with a pyramidal tiled roof, surmounted by a flèche affording entrance to the birds. The timbering is of simple uprights and cross-beams, with occasional straight struts, and the filling appears to have been originally wattle and daub, though this has been replaced in many places by brick. The structure is probably contemporary with the adjacent farm-house. The few cottages which make up the main portion of the village are situated a little to the north of the church. Here are some good examples of half-timber work. A small cottage standing a little way back on the west side of the road has two remarkably fine late 15th-century moulded brick chimney stacks with circular shafts, spirally fluted, and octagonal cappings with concave sides. The plan is a simple oblong containing two rooms on the ground floor with fireplaces at either end of the building, a central staircase, and a small out-house on the north. There is an attic story in the roof. The ceilings are open-joisted. About three-quarters of a mile south-east of the church, on the opposite side of the railway and canal, is Netherwood Farm, a modernized 17th-century building of red brick; in an adjoining barn was committed a murder consequent on the 'Oddingley murder' in 1806. A man was tried for this in 1830 at the Worcester assizes, but was acquitted. This barn has been since demolished and a new one erected on its foundations.
The vill of Oddingley is said to have been thrown into the forest of Feckenham by Henry II, (fn. 1) but was disafforested at the beginning of the reign of Henry III. (fn. 2) A part of Trench Wood, which lies chiefly in Huddington, is in Oddingley. Oddingley Heath was inclosed before 1817, and until its inclosure the inhabitants of Oddingley, Tibberton, Hindlip, Hadzor and Salwarpe enjoyed rights of common there. (fn. 3) The parish contains 894 acres, of which 357 are arable land, 423 permanent grass and 75 woodland. (fn. 4) The soil is loamy and the subsoil Keuper Marl, producing crops of cereals and roots.
The manor of ODDINGLEY was apparently given to the see of Worcester before 816, for at that date Coenwulf, King of Mercia, granted to Bishop Deneberht and the church of Worcester that Oddingley should be free of all secular services except building of strongholds and bridges and military service. (fn. 8) Cynewold, the fifteenth Bishop of Worcester (929–57), is said to have given this manor about 940 to the monks of Worcester, (fn. 9) and in 963 Bishop Oswald, with the permission of the convent, of Edgar, King of England, and of Alfhere, ealdorman of Mercia, gave this estate for three lives to Cynethegn with reversion to the church of Worcester. (fn. 10) A more detailed account of this alienation is given in the registers of the monastery. A certain clerk of noble birth called Cynethegn came to Godwin, the venerable dean of the monastery, and asked for a cassata of land called Oddingley. Godwin being unwilling to deny him, as he knew him for a powerful man of great prudence, granted it to him without delay, on condition that he should pay 5s. a year for the land. This agreement Cynethegn kept as long as he lived, but on his death his heirs usurped the land and would not do any service for it. In this way the monks lost the land and the service due for it. (fn. 11) The manor was, however, included in the land of the church of Worcester at the time of the Domesday Survey. It was held by Ordric, and his predecessor Turchil had done service for it to the bishop. (fn. 12)
The tenure by which this manor was held seems to have been doubtful. Towards the end of the 12th century it was returned as belonging to the Bishop of Worcester's great manor of Northwick in Claines, but the tenant did no service for it. (fn. 13) In 1330–1 it was said to be held of the Abbot of Wigmore, (fn. 14) but in 1346 it was granted to John de Beauchamp for the service of serving the king with his cup whenever he should come to the manor. (fn. 15) In 1360 and 1424–5 it was not known of whom the manor was held, (fn. 16) while in 1398–9 it was said to be held of the king in chief by knight service. (fn. 17) In 1432–3 it was held of Richard Earl of Warwick and others, as of their manor of Bromsgrove, for a service unknown. (fn. 18)
Adam de Croome is the first under-tenant of the manor whose name is known. He claimed a hide at Oddingley of the bishop's fee as the land of his cousin. This apparently happened in the time of Bishop Samson (1096–1112), (fn. 19) and Adam later gave the estate to William Hacket, who was in possession towards the end of the 12th century. (fn. 20) In 1226–7 Alda widow of Thomas Hacket claimed a third of a hide of land at Oddingley as dower from Ralph Hacket. It was agreed between them that Alda should have half a knight's fee in Coston and a rent of 1 mark yearly in Eckington in satisfaction of her dower. (fn. 21) In 1254–5 William Cassy sued Philip Hacket for land in Oddingley, (fn. 22) and in 1274–5 Philip Hacket brought a writ of novel disseisin against Roger Mortimer for land in Oddingley. (fn. 23) The manor of Oddingley had, however, been sold before this time, probably in the reign of Henry III, (fn. 24) by Robert Hacket to Roger Mortimer, but the charter recording this grant is undated. (fn. 25) This Roger Mortimer was evidently Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, and he gave the manor to his younger son Roger Mortimer of Chirk, who in 1284 applied to his brother Edmund for a confirmation of their father's grant. (fn. 26) Margery widow of Gregory de Caldwell sued Roger son of Roger Mortimer in 1274–5 for a third of the manor of Oddingley which she claimed as dower. Roger said that she had no right to this dower, as Gregory had been outlawed, but Margery said that the manor had been taken away from Gregory before his outlawry by Roger de Mortimer, sen. (fn. 27) Gregory possibly held a lease of the manor under the Hackets. His son Edmund claimed two-thirds of the manor in 1279, stating, as his mother had done, that Gregory had been unjustly disseised of the manor by Roger Mortimer the elder. (fn. 28) It would seem that Margery Caldwell secured a third of the manor, for in 1284 she was sued for this third by John Costentyn and Margery his wife, as Margery's right, and Margery Caldwell called Roger Mortimer to uphold her right. (fn. 29) Roger Mortimer had probably recovered possession of the manor in 1300, for he presented to the church in that year, (fn. 30) and granted the manor for life to Adam de Harvington in 1304–5. (fn. 31) Roger Mortimer of Chirk forfeited all his possessions in 1322 for taking up arms against the Despensers. (fn. 32) He died in prison in August 1326, (fn. 33) and, though he left a son Roger, his nephew Roger Mortimer of Wigmore was declared his heir, and presented to the church of Oddingley in December 1326, (fn. 34) the king having presented in October of that year by reason of the lands of Roger Mortimer of Wigmore (fn. 35) being in his hands. (fn. 36) Roger Mortimer of Wigmore was restored on the accession of Edward III and was created Earl of March in 1328, (fn. 37) but he was convicted of treason and hanged in 1330. (fn. 38) The manor of Oddingley was enumerated among his possessions at that time, (fn. 39) but was probably still held by Adam de Harvington. On the death of Adam the manor reverted to the Crown on account of Roger's forfeiture, and was granted for life by Edward III in 1344–5 to Thomas de Hawkeston for his good services, at a rent of £6 6s. (fn. 40) This rent was remitted in 1345. (fn. 41) In 1346 the reversion after the death of Thomas was granted to John de Beauchamp. (fn. 42) John died in December 1360, (fn. 43) and the reversion of the manor had evidently been granted to Roger Mortimer, grandson of Roger the first Earl of March, when he was created Earl of March, and his grandfather's attainder reversed in 1354, (fn. 44) for he had confirmed the king's grant to John de Beauchamp, and died seised of the manor in February 1360. (fn. 45) His son and successor Edmund died in 1381, leaving a son Roger, aged seven, (fn. 46) and the manor passed into the king's custody. (fn. 47) Roger, then Earl of March, died seised of the manor in 1398, (fn. 48) and it was assigned as dower to his widow Eleanor, who married as her second husband Edward Charleton Lord Powys. (fn. 49) Edward and Eleanor granted an annuity of 100s. from the manor to Alice Bremle for her good service to Eleanor, and this grant was confirmed to her by the king in 1405, (fn. 50) probably on account of the manor coming into his hands by the death of Eleanor Lady Powys in that year, her son Edmond being still a minor. (fn. 51) Edmond died without issue in 1425, his heirs being his sisters Joan wife of Sir John Grey and Joyce wife of Sir John Tiptoft and his nephew Richard Duke of York. (fn. 52) This manor was assigned to Richard Duke of York, but Anne widow of Edmond Earl of March held a third of it as dower until her death in 1432–3. (fn. 53) Richard Duke of York died in 1460, (fn. 54) and his son Edward was proclaimed King of England in March 1460–1. In June 1461 he, as Edward IV, granted the manor of Oddingley to his mother Cicely Duchess of York, (fn. 55) and this grant was confirmed by Richard III in 1484. (fn. 56) The manor was probably held by Elizabeth, queen consort of Henry VII, as she presented to the church in 1499. (fn. 57) Henry VIII granted the manor in 1509 to Katherine of Aragon, (fn. 58) and it evidently also formed part of the jointure of Jane Seymour. (fn. 59) In January 1540 it was granted for life to Anne of Cleves on her marriage with the king, (fn. 60) and in 1541 to Katherine Howard. (fn. 61) In 1544 it was granted to Katherine Parr. (fn. 62)
Edward VI granted the manor in 1549 to John Earl of Warwick, (fn. 63) and confirmed it to him in 1552 and 1553, (fn. 64) having created him Duke of North-umberland in 1551. He was attainted and beheaded in 1553 for taking the part of Lady Jane Grey, (fn. 65) but this manor seems to have remained in the possession of his widow Joan, for in 1553–4 Queen Mary granted to her other manors in exchange for the manors of Yardley and Oddingley, (fn. 66) the latter of which the queen granted in 1554 to her secretary Sir John Bourne. (fn. 67) He died in 1575, (fn. 68) and his widow Dorothy and her son Anthony sold the manor in 1575–6 to George Winter. (fn. 69) It then followed the same descent as the manor of Huddington (fn. 70) until the death of Sir George Winter in 1658.
By his will dated 1657 Sir George had charged the manor of Oddingley with his debts and legacies, (fn. 71) and it evidently passed with Huddington to his aunt Helen Winter, for it was sold by her to Thomas Foley, (fn. 72) who was in possession in 1661. (fn. 73) The manor followed the same descent as that of Great Witley (q.v.) from this time until 1806 or later. (fn. 74) It was purchased about 1837 by John Howard Galton of Hadzor. (fn. 75) He died in 1867, and the manor was held until her death in 1877 by his widow. (fn. 76) It then passed to her son Theodore Howard, who was succeeded in 1881 by his son Major Hubert George Howard Galton, R.A., of Hadzor House, the present owner of the manor. (fn. 77)
Some 16th-century Court Rolls of the manor are preserved at the Public Record Office. (fn. 78)
The church of ST. JAMES consists of a chancel 17½ ft. by 12½ ft., nave 37¼ ft by 14½ ft., north transept 9½ ft. deep by 11½ ft. wide, south transept 11 ft. wide by 12 ft. deep, and a western tower 8½ ft. by 9 ft. These measurements are all internal.
No part of the fabric is earlier than the 15th century, when the existing building, with the exception of the tower, was erected. The nave, judging from the position of the doorways, was originally longer, and was shortened when the tower was added, probably in the 17th century. Although the church retains its original windows, they have been much restored and their stones recut, doubtless when the chancel was rebuilt in 1861.
The east window of the chancel is wholly modern and is of three lights under a four-centred traceried head. The two 15th-century windows in the south wall have been reset; each is of two lights under a square head. Between them is a reset 15th-century doorway with a four-centred arch. The window in the north wall is similar to the south-west window opposite. There is no chancel arch, but the wall returns on both sides to the walls of the wider nave.
The north transept is entered by a plastered archway and has an east window of two lights similar to those of the chancel and apparently old. The north window is of three lights with cusped cross-tracery and a two-centred arch; much of its stonework appears to be original. The west window is probably a later insertion, and is of two lights with unpierced spandrels. Across the opening to the south transept is a 15th-century moulded timber archway or screen, the western post being placed against the west jamb of the opening, while the eastern stands free and gives access to the pulpit. This arrangement appears to be original, the narrow opening being evidently left for the passage of a rood-loft stair. The east and west windows of the south transept, both original, are of two lights and resemble those in the chancel. The south window has three lights with pierced spandrels within a two-centred head. The lower part of the lights is filled in with modern stonework.
The two-light north window of the nave, which is apparently old, conforms to the general type. The south window is square-headed with three lights. The north and south doorways (of which the former is filled in) have each a single chamfered order and a four-centred arch and appear to be original. The timber porch to the south doorway is modern. To the east of the doorway is a round-headed niche partly repaired, but the stoup which occupied it is now gone. To the west of these doorways are low buttresses flush with and not bonded to the nave walls.
The tower, of rough rubble without quoins, is three stages high with square string-courses to mark the divisions. The plastered archway towards the nave has a pointed head and the partly restored west window is of three lights with tracery above. It was probably the original west window of the nave removed and reset when the tower was added. The second stage is lighted by plain rectangular lights to the north and south and the bell-chamber or third stage by a pair of round-headed windows in each wall. The roof is of pyramidal form, tiled, and with plain eaves. The rest of the church is rubble faced with quoins. The chancel walling is all modern, and the upper part of the transept has also been rebuilt. The gabled roofs are plastered internally with ornamental trusses at intervals. The font is octagonal and is apparently original work recut. The moulded lower edge to the bowl is carved with roses and fetterlocks alternately. Some of the oak seats are made up with 17th-century re-used woodwork. There are two old plain chests in the church made from solid tree trunks, and in the nave is a wrought-iron hour-glass stand. The other furniture is modern.
In the east window of the chancel are some fragments of 15th-century glass, including complete figures of St. Martin and St. Catherine. Above the latter in the north light is a shield of the king's arms impaling Nevill, and below are the half-length figures of a man and wife praying and the inscription 'Orate pro animabus Johannis Yarnold et Johanne uxoris eius'; below these again is another figure in a blue habit and scapular kneeling before a prayer desk. Below St. Martin in the middle light is part of the figure of an archbishop. In the south light is the fragmentary figure of a female saint holding a cross staff over her with the arms of Mortimer. Below are inscribed the words 'Dñs Joh[ann]es Haryes' and under this are the kneeling figures of a man and his wife without inscription. Below these is a priest in sub-deacon's vestments. Among the other fragments are a small head of Christ with the crown of thorns and part of an inscription referring to a rector. In the north window of the chancel is an Assumption of our Lady, with a Majesty to the east. There are also bits of old glass in the spandrels of all the chancel window heads.
There are three bells: the treble is inscribed 'Prayse and glory be to God for ever I.P. 1661,' and on the waist is the mark of the founder, John Martin of Worcester. On the second bell is a cross with the letters H K, a lion passant, G O, H O, and another lion passant. The tenor is dated 1713 and was cast by Richard Saunders of Bromsgrove.
The plate (fn. 79) includes a plain cup of peculiar pattern, gilt inside, with the hall mark of 1802; also a salver paten standing on three feet with an embossed ring 6 in. in diameter, inscribed on the reverse 'Hadzor 1816,' and having the hall mark of 1754. There is in addition a curious pewter flagon with a pearshaped body, made of two pieces joined together, also a pewter plate.
The registers (fn. 80) before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1661 to 1745; (ii) baptisms 1745 to 1812, burials 1748 to 1812, marriages 1748 to 1754; (iii) marriages 1756 to 1812.
The descent of the advowson of the church of Oddingley is substantially the same as that of the manor. (fn. 81) It was apparently excepted from the grants of the manor to Adam de Harvington, Thomas de Hawkeston and John de Beauchamp. Elizabeth consort of Henry VII presented to the church in 1499 (fn. 82) and Queen Katherine in 1523, (fn. 83) but it was not included in the grants of the manor to the other consorts of Henry VIII. The advowson of the church was granted with the manor to Sir John Bourne in 1554 (fn. 84) and has since descended with the manor. The living is a rectory, united in 1864 to Hadzor. (fn. 85)
In 1631 Henry Button, as stated on the church table, by his will gave 2s. 6d. per annum out of certain land in the parish for the poor on Good Friday for ever, to be distributed by the churchwardens and overseers.
The same table also stated that Margaret Parker in 1657, by her will, gave to the poor 10s. per annum issuing out of land known as Aves Hills, to be distributed to the poor on Christmas Day and Whit Sunday. Upon non-payment thereof a power of distress was given to the churchwardens and overseers. It is understood that the annuity is paid by the proprietor of the farm charged.