A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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Upper Arley is a parish containing 3,969 acres, of which 50 acres are covered with water, on the Shropshire border of the county. It was included in the county of Staffordshire until 1895, when it was transferred to Worcestershire. (fn. 1) It is watered on the west by the Severn and three of its tributaries, and on the east by a tributary of the Stour. The parish abounds in woods, especially that part on the right bank of the Severn which was formerly and is still partly in Wyre Forest. Shatterford and Arley Woods in the east of the parish were formerly in Kinver Forest. (fn. 2) In 1905 the parish included 875 acres of arable land, 1,945 acres of permanent grass and 838 acres of woodland. (fn. 3)
The village is well wooded and charmingly situated in the Severn valley, on the left bank of the river, about 5 miles north of Bewdley and 6 miles north-west of Kidderminster. It is built along the road running south-west from Shatterford, which after entering the village runs for nearly 100 yards along the side of the river, and taking a bend to the north-west rises uphill to the church and Arley Castle, both of which are built on high ground at the western extremity of the settlement. It thus takes the form of a horseshoe. None of the cottages are of any great antiquity, and are chiefly built of red brick with tile roofs.
The Grange, the residence of the Misses Corser, is a small 18th-century red brick house on the west side of the road leading to the church. The roof is tiled and the house contains a good oak staircase having a moulded handrail and turned balusters. The station is on the opposite side of the river to the village, and is reached by a ferry which was a source of revenue to the lords of the manor in the 14th century.
Arley Castle stands on high ground to the east of the church, and commands a good view of the Severn valley and forest of Wyre. The greater part of the present house, now the residence of Mr. R. Woodward, D.L., J.P., was built of sandstone in the Gothic style by Lord Mountnorris in 1844. The only ancient feature remaining is a part of the Old Hall, formerly the dower house of the Lytteltons of Hagley, now forming the south wing. It is a two-storied building, erected apparently in the latter part of the 16th century, and enlarged in the reign of James I. The roof is tiled, and externally the hall has been refaced with stucco. The windows have been renewed in most cases with sashes, and the moulded label of the early Gothic revivalists has been inserted over them. With the exception of two staircases the interior was entirely remodelled in 1844. Both these staircases are on the eastern side of the house. That on the north is Elizabethan, in two flights, with a moulded handrail, shaped flat balusters and square newels, capped with turned finials. The other, or principal staircase, is of a more pretentious design, and was added early in the 17th century. It ascends to the first floor in three flights, with square landings at each turn. The strings and handrail are moulded, and the newel posts, which have shaped finials incised with an arabesque enrichment, are ornamented in a similar manner. The balusters are shaped and have small Ionic capitals. The panelled risers are a peculiar feature of the staircase. A considerable amount of 17th-century woodwork has been re-used in the old part of the house, especially in the library, a room in the north-west corner of the original block, where a cleverly constructed fireplace might be taken for original Jacobean work. Several tombstones taken from the churchyard have been utilized in the building of a cellar in the additions made by Lord Mountnorris.
The soil varies, the subsoil being sandstone rock. The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats and beans. Cider apples were formerly grown at Arley, and Sir Henry Lyttelton cultivated vines from which were produced light wines equal to those of France. (fn. 4) There is a freestone quarry on the estate of Mr. Woodward, from which grindstones, millstones and building stone are obtained. A thin stratum of coal was worked in the middle of the 19th century. (fn. 5)
Place-names occurring in deeds relating to Upper Arley are Elarenesland, le Wheolares, (fn. 6) Rylondbrugge, Wudres (xv cent.), (fn. 7) Quateway, Frenchman Street, Whitnells, Popehouse Lane (xvi cent.). (fn. 8)
The manor of UPPER ARLEY was given to the college of Wolverhampton by Wulfrun, the founder, about 996. (fn. 9) The clerks of Wolverhampton held 2 hides at Arley in 1086, and to this manor belonged half a hide in 'the other Arley,' which Osbert Fitz Richard took by force from the canons. (fn. 10)
The college of Wolverhampton with all its possessions was granted by William Rufus to Samson Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 11) Samson gave the college to the Prior and convent of Worcester, (fn. 12) and from them it was unlawfully taken by Roger Bishop of Salisbury in the reign of Stephen. (fn. 13) The college was restored to the priory of Worcester by King Stephen, but Upper Arley was apparently given by Bishop Roger to Henry de Port, for his son Adam was in possession in 1166–7, (fn. 14) and it appears that Henry de Port had formerly held it. (fn. 15) Adam de Port forfeited all his possessions in 1172, (fn. 16) when Upper or Over Arley passed to the Crown. During the early years of the reign of Richard I it appears to have been farmed by the men of the manor, (fn. 17) but in 1194 it was granted to William de Braose at a rent of £15 10s. 7d. yearly. (fn. 18) He held it until 1198–9, when it was resumed by the Crown, probably on account of the debts owned by William to the king. (fn. 19) In the following year it was granted by King John to Thomas de Burgh. He held it of the king in chief for the service of one knight's fee, (fn. 20) and from that time it was always held of the king in chief either for knight service or at a fee-farm rent. (fn. 21) Thomas de Burgh was still holding the manor in 1225, (fn. 22) but in March 1227 it was granted by the king to Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, brother of Thomas, (fn. 23) and the grant was confirmed in 1228. (fn. 24) In 1232 the king freed from regard of the forest the wood of Arley belonging to Hubert de Burgh in the forest of Kinver. (fn. 25) On the fall of Hubert in 1232 he surrendered all his possessions to the king, (fn. 26) and, though they were restored to him in the same year, (fn. 27) this manor was granted in June 1233 to Anketil Mallore and his heirs, to be held at a fee farm of 10 marks yearly. (fn. 28) In 1235–6, however, as the result of an action between Hubert and Anketil, the manor was restored to the earl, (fn. 29) who was succeeded in 1243 by his son John. (fn. 30) John de Burgh granted this manor to Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells, who surrendered it to King Edward I. (fn. 31) In 1274 the king granted it to Letard Hanyn and his issue, (fn. 32) and in 1276 Letard obtained licence to grant it to Roger de Mortimer. (fn. 33) It passed from Roger to his son Edmund in 1282, (fn. 34) and was granted by the latter to his daughter Iseult and her first husband Walter de Balun for their lives. (fn. 35) After Walter's death Iseult married Hugh de Audley, and on his forfeiture in 1322 the manor was granted by the king to Iseult, (fn. 36) who held it until her death about 1339–40. (fn. 37) The reversion after her death, during the minority of Roger de Mortimer, had been granted in 1336 to William de Bohun (fn. 38) Earl of Northampton, who had married Elizabeth widow of Edmund de Mortimer, grandson of the Edmund who had granted the manor to Iseult. (fn. 39) Roger came of age about 1348, but Elizabeth held the manor until her death in 1356, when it passed to her son Roger, (fn. 40) who had become Earl of March by the reversal of his grandfather's attainder in 1354. (fn. 41) It passed with the title of Earl of March (fn. 42) until it was sold by Richard Duke of York and Earl of March in 1448 to William Boerley or Burley. (fn. 43) William died in 1458–9, (fn. 44) but he had apparently before his death conveyed the manor to trustees for Thomas Lyttelton, who had married Joan, William's eldest daughter and co-heir. (fn. 45) Sir Thomas died seised of the manor in 1481, when he was succeeded by his son William. (fn. 46) From him it passed in 1507 to his son John, (fn. 47) and from that time the descent of the manor is identical with that of Frankley (q.v.) until the death of Thomas Lord Lyttelton in 1779. (fn. 48)
The manor then passed to his sister Lucy Fortescue, wife of Sir Arthur Annesley, Viscount Valentia. (fn. 49) She and her husband were dealing with half the manor in 1782–3, (fn. 50) but she died in 1783, (fn. 51) and the manor passed to her son George, (fn. 52) who succeeded his father as Earl of Mountnorris in 1816. (fn. 53) He built the present Arley Castle in 1844, but died in that year at Arley without surviving issue. (fn. 54) The manor then passed to his nephew Arthur Lyttelton Annesley, (fn. 55) who sold it in 1852 to Robert Woodward. He died in 1882, when Arley passed to his son Robert, (fn. 56) the present owner of the manor.
The lords of the manor of Arley claimed there pleas of the Crown, free warren, market and fair and waifs and strays, view of frankpledge, infangenthef and gallows. (fn. 57) There is no indication, however, that a market or fair was ever held at Arley. There was a wood belonging to the manor in the bounds of Wyre Forest, (fn. 58) and the weirs and fishing in the Severn and a ferry over the river formed valuable appurtenances of the manor. (fn. 59) In 1602 'a passage called the Ferry boate' over the Severn was held by the parish at the will of the lord of the manor. (fn. 60)
A water corn-mill at Arley is first mentioned in 1425, (fn. 61) and in 1602 the site of the old mill is mentioned, together with mills near Bulfield and Arley Wood. (fn. 62) Mills are also mentioned in the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 63) There is now a disused corn-mill called Worralls on a tributary of the Severn on the Kidderminster boundary, and Arley Mill, a corn-mill, on another tributary, is on the east of the park at Arley Castle.
The manor of EXTONS (Heyston, xiii cent.; Hexston, xiv cent.) was held of the manor of Upper Arley. (fn. 64) It originated in land held by a family named Hexton or Hekstane, probably as early as the 12th century. Hubert de Burgh, who became lord of Arley in 1227, granted to Robert son of Robert de Gloucester all the land in Arley which Robert had held of Thomas de Burgh, and which had formerly been held by Osbert de Hexton. (fn. 65) Robert gave this land to Dametta de Hexton (fn. 66) for life, with remainder to Avelina de Hexton. Dametta seems to have died about 1292, when Avelina successfully sued Henry de Hexton for a messuage and lands. (fn. 67) Roger son of Henry de Hexton received a grant of land in Arley from William de Gerrus in 1295. (fn. 68) It was probably this Roger who in 1312–13 obtained from Henry son of Henry de Hexton, his brother, a recognition of his right to land in Arley. (fn. 69) His widow Idonea was holding the estate in 1327, (fn. 70) but it had passed by 1332–3 to Henry de Hexton, probably son of Roger. (fn. 71) Before 1383 the Hextons had added to their estate at Arley a tenement called Silvestres, formerly belonging to John Gunny, (fn. 72) and at that date John de Hexton granted to his son William the reversion of a tenement which John atte Brok and his wife Maud then held. (fn. 73) William was succeeded by a son John, (fn. 74) who settled his land in 1406. (fn. 75) Isabel his wife appears to have survived him and granted the estate to trustees, who gave it in 1439 to John Hexton and his wife Agnes daughter of John Horewode. (fn. 76) John Hexton was dealing with land at Arley in 1449, (fn. 77) and in 1482 his son Thomas, a merchant and burgess of Bristol, leased 'Hextons Place' to Thomas Holowey of Alveley, co. Salop, and Joan his wife, at a yearly rent of £5. (fn. 78) Three years later he granted it to John Alcock, Bishop of Worcester, and others (fn. 79) in trust for the Dean and college of Westbury. (fn. 80) In 1496 the dean leased 'the manor in the lordship of Arley called Hexteyns Place' (fn. 81) at a rent of £80 to Thomas Wildecote of Highley, co. Salop, with the condition that if Thomas should cause to be appropriated to the college any church in the diocese of Worcester of the annual value of 10 marks the rent should be returned to him. (fn. 82) This or some similar condition may have been fulfilled by Thomas, for in 1501 the dean released to him all his estate in Arley, (fn. 83) and Thomas sold the manor in 1520–1 to John Pakington. (fn. 84) John gave the estate to his daughter Bridget on her marriage with John Lyttelton, lord of Arley, (fn. 85) and it apparently afterwards followed the descent of the manor of Upper Arley, though it is not mentioned in deeds relating to the manor until 1707. (fn. 86)
The value of the estate at Hextons increased greatly about 1680, when freestone was discovered there (fn. 87) suitable for making grindstones, which were much in demand in the neighbourhood owing to the local hardware trade.
PICKARDS TENEMENT and THE MORE originated in land granted by Letard de Hanyn to Hugh de Picard, also known as Hugh de Waban. (fn. 88) In 1276 an assize was taken to find whether Letard and Hugh had disseised Roger de Cruce of land in 'Shutenearelegh,' or South Arley, (fn. 89) and Roger de Mortimer, to whom Letard sold the manor in that year, granted to Hugh for his homage and service all the land which Alexander de Colrugge held in Arley Manor, with land called 'terra de la More' held by Richard Hyrlaund and his wife Maud. (fn. 90) John Picard, son and heir of Hugh, leased the estate called the More and a carucate of land in Arley in 1323 to Thomas son of William Bromley of Arley and Margaret his wife for their lives, and his grant was ratified by his daughters Isabel and Joan in 1338. (fn. 91) In the following year Thomas and Margaret granted their interest in the estate to Thomas Lestrange. (fn. 92) Nothing further is known of it until 1357, when Roger son of Hugh de Wyre gave to his son Richard all his land in Arley called 'More or Woddus or Pykaslonde' with contingent remainders to Richard and John, brothers of the grantor, and to his sisters Juliana and Margaret. (fn. 93) In 1460 John Kocke granted 'Le More and Le Wodehouse alias Picarslond' to Gilbert Talbot and others, (fn. 94) evidently in trust, for in 1476 John Goode recovered this property from John Cokkes of Chetton, probably to be identified with the above John Kocke. (fn. 95) In 1485 John Goode's son Thomas sold a messuage called Lee Pykardes with land called Lee Doddes and Lee Annottes Ruddyng to Thomas Wildecote and his wife Elizabeth. (fn. 96) Pickards Tenement from that time followed the descent of Extons. (fn. 97) The name still survives at Pickard's Farm, to the north of the village of Upper Arley.
A weir at Arley and a messuage and a carucate of land at LE BOURE, sometimes called a manor, belonged in the 13th century to Adam de la Bure or Boure. He granted the weir in 1236 to Laurence de Alveley at a rent of 2s. yearly, (fn. 98) and at the same date Laurence released to Adam a curtilage at Arley. (fn. 99) In 1304–5 and 1326 weirs and land belonging to Adam de la Boure were excepted from the estate of the Audleys in Arley, (fn. 100) and in 1331–2 their custody was granted to Iseult de Audley. (fn. 101) On her death it passed under her will to William de Bohun Earl of Northampton. (fn. 102) In 1333 it was found by inquisition that the land at la Boure was member of the manor of Cleobury and that Edmund de Mortimer had died seised of it in fee. (fn. 103)
The church of ST. PETER consists of a modern chancel, south vestry and organ chamber, a nave 32 ft. 5 in. by 19 ft. 5 in., a north aisle 51 ft. 10 in. by 14 ft. 2 in. (the full length of the nave and extending eastwards nearly to the end of the chancel), a south porch and a tower 18 ft. by 17 ft. 3 in. at the west end of the nave. These measurements are all internal.
Though the earliest detail in situ dates from the beginning of the 14th century, some small pieces of Norman ornament built into the south nave wall at its eastern end (when it was heightened early in the 16th century) point to a church of 12th-century erection. This building no doubt consisted of a nave and chancel only, and the thickness of the south wall of the present nave suggests that it belongs to the original structure.
The first enlargement appears to have taken place circa 1325, when a north aisle was added and at the same time the chancel arch was rebuilt. Early in the 16th century the aisle was extended eastward and the walls of the nave were heightened by the addition of a clearstory, probably necessitated by the building of a 15th-century tower which kept out the light previously obtained through a large west window. The present tower was not built until late in the 16th century, but the foundations of the earlier one can still be seen. At the same time as the raising of the nave walls the church was reroofed and the aisle wall heightened by the addition of an embattled parapet. No further structural alterations appear to have been made until 1885, when the present chancel was built together with the vestry, organ chamber and south porch, while at the same time the building was generally restored.
Between the chancel and the north chapel is a modern arcade of two pointed arches. The chancel arch is pointed and of two orders, the mouldings of the outer being continuous and those of the inner stopped on the capitals of the respond shafts. The latter are half-round on plan with moulded bases on square plinths.
The arcade between the nave and aisle is in three bays with pointed arches of two chamfered orders carried on piers, quatrefoil on plan with a small roll between each shaft and having moulded capitals and bases of simple section. The responds are similar and almost the whole arcade is original 14th-century work. In the east end of the south nave wall is a small blocked doorway with a drop rear arch, which probably opened into the rood-stair, as it is invisible outside. Immediately over this doorway is a blocked window, its opening visible externally. The doorway within the modern porch is new, but in the wall above can be seen the segmental relieving arch of an older opening.
The clearstory on each side is pierced with two pairs of square-headed four-light windows with vertical tracery in the heads. The jambs of these windows differ slightly on the two sides of the church.
The added clearstory on the north is slightly thicker than the wall below, the junction being masked by a small chamfer. The embattled parapet to the north and south walls, which is also returned across the east wall of the nave, is original, with a continuous coping. The merlons are enriched by a sunk trefoiled panel under a pointed head. A massive buttress terminates the south wall of the nave towards the west.
Of the aisle windows, the eastern retains its original opening with a segmental head, but the mullions, &c., are modern. Of the three in the north wall, the first from the east has three lights and a square head with panelled spandrels. The other two date from the 14th century, having two lights each with a quatrefoil in the head. Further west is a blocked pointed doorway with a segmental rear arch, which has been restored externally.
The west window of the aisle is similar to the two last described in the north wall. Externally the nave aisle is finished with a chamfered plinth and supported by five simple buttresses terminated with gabled copings. The parapet is similar to that of the main nave walls; at the west end it is sloped up to meet the tower, but the east wall of the quire aisle has a low gable.
The tower stands on a moulded plinth, and is externally divided by moulded strings into four stages and crowned with a low parapet. At the south-east angle is an octagonal stair turret, and from the western corners project diagonal buttresses, stopping at the level of the bell-chamber windows, the string-courses being carried round them. The pointed tower arch, of two square orders, springs from square responds with moulded bases and abaci. The west window is modern, though set within the pointed head and jambs of the original work. In the north and south walls of the first stage is a small pointed window of a single uncusped light, with an external moulded architrave stopping on a slightly projecting sill. Under the tower was formerly a gallery (removed in recent years), and the set-offs which supported it are still visible. The ringing chamber is lighted by two small windows similar to those in the ground stage, while in each wall of the bell-chamber are coupled semicircular openings with plain imposts and key-stones, which seem to have been inserted in the 18th century. The floor of the bellchamber appears to have been raised at some period, as shown by the holes in the east and west walls of the ringing chamber for the reception of the joists of the older floor.
The roof of the chancel is modern, but the roofs (both of elm) over the nave and aisle are of the early 16th century, though the latter has been considerably restored. The nave roof is of very low pitch, and is divided into four bays by heavy moulded rafters. Those against the end walls and in the centre are supported by carved spandrel braces and wall-posts carried on stone corbels. The corbels to the centre one are carved with saltire crosses, but the others are plain. The ridge, wall-plates and purlins are all moulded. The aisle roof is flat, and is divided into five main bays, each of which is further subdivided into four panels by moulded beams. All the roofs are covered with lead.
Built high up in the north wall of the nave is a small stone on which is carved a circle inclosing a dove. In the floor of the aisle under the easternmost arch opening into the chancel are a few mediaeval tiles.
Over the chancel arch is a very dilapidated wall painting of the Judgement. In the centre of the picture, seated on a rainbow and clad in a red robe, is the figure of the Almighty with both hands upraised. The figures of the doomed are on the south side of the arch, with the righteous to the north. The painting was uncovered in 1884, but has since that date much faded, and is now very indistinct.
Under the west arch opening into the chancel is a fine effigy of an early 14th-century knight. The figure, set on a modern base, is in the attitude of prayer, the legs crossed and resting on the back of a small lion. Over the mail is a long surcoat, and upon the head, which rests on a cushion, is a bascinet. The sword hangs at the left side, and on the left arm is strapped a shield charged with his arms, (fn. 104) barry dancetty, which are also repeated on the ailettes.
On the south wall of the nave is a mural monument to Sir Henry Lyttelton, bart., who died 24 June 1693. The monument also record: the burials of Captain William Lyttelton, brother of the above, and his nephew Henry son of Sir Charles Lyttelton.
There is a ring of six bells by Abel Rudhall, 1753. The treble is inscribed 'When you us ring we'll sweetly sing a.r. 1753'; the second 'Peace and good neighbourhood A.R. 1753'; the third 'Prosperity to this Parish A.R. 1753'; the fourth 'Abel Rudhall cast us all 1753'; the fifth 'Wm. Hill and Thomas Brooks Churchwardens A.R. 1753,' and the tenor 'I to the Church the living call and to the grave do summon all. A.R. 1753.'
The plate consists of two silver cups, two silver patens—one large – and a silver flagon, each inscribed 'The Gift of George Mountnorris to the Parish of Over Arley 1817,' and stamped with the date letter of the previous year, a small glass water-cruet having a plated stopper, and a modern brass almsdish.
The advowson of the church of Upper Arley was originally annexed to the manor and was given in the middle of the 12th century to the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield by Adam de Port and his wife Sybil. (fn. 105) The church was confirmed to the dean and chapter by Pope Honorius III in 1221 (fn. 106) and by Boniface Archbishop of Canterbury (1245–70) (fn. 107) and Alexander Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield (1224–38). (fn. 108) In 1225 Thomas de Burgh, lord of the manor, unsuccessfully claimed the church of Arley. (fn. 109) The advowson was included in the grant of the manor to Anketil Mallore in 1233, (fn. 110) and it would appear that the de Burghs also claimed it, for in 1259–60 the king, at the instance of John de Burgh, acknowledged the dean's right, (fn. 111) and in 1260 John confirmed this. (fn. 112) The dean had again to make good his right against the king in 1292–3. (fn. 113)
The dean and chapter remained in possession of the advowson and rectory until 1548, (fn. 114) when they were sold to Gilbert son of John Lyttelton. (fn. 115) They then followed the descent of the manor (fn. 116) until the sale of the latter to Robert Woodward. The rectory passed with the manor, but the advowson was retained by Arthur Lyttelton Annesley and now belongs to his son Lieut.-Gen. Sir Arthur Lyttelton LytteltonAnnesley.
In 1676 the Dean of Lichfield claimed the advowson and rectory of Arley on the grounds that they were held by the Lytteltons under a lease only. On search being made in the cathedral registers a memorandum was found by which it appeared that Gilbert Lyttelton had purchased the advowson in fee, a condition of the purchase being that he should pay to the dean and vicar annual rents of £10 each and should entertain the former as often as he came to visit the church. (fn. 117) In 1675 Sir Henry Lyttelton gave the vicar the great tithes of the part of the parish which lies on the west side of the Severn, together with the small tithes of the whole parish, in lieu of the yearly pension of £10. (fn. 118)
The Poor's Land.
—The parish is in possession of two cottages with gardens at the Herne, three cottages with gardens at Arley, and a house and 10 a. at Nash End, derived in part from the benefaction of a Mr. Longmore and of other donors, bringing in an income of £50 a year or thereabouts. The trustees have also a sum of £110 2s. on deposit at a bank arising from accumulations of income. In 1909 a sum of £33 was distributed among fifty-five poor people.
In 1811 Thomas Corbyn by his will bequeathed £60, the interest to be distributed among the poor on St. Thomas's Day yearly. The legacy with an addition by the executors is now represented by £100 consols. In 1909 the annual dividends of £2 10s. were divided among five poor women in sums varying from 5s. to 15s.
In 1886 the Rev. Edward Whieldon by a codicil to his will proved at London 28 September bequeathed £100, now represented by £99 2s. 8d. consols, the annual dividends amounting to £2 9s. 4d. to be distributed among aged and descrving poor. In 1910 the distribution was made among seven widows in sums varying from 4s. to 12s. 6d.