A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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Warndon is a small parish in mid-Worcestershire, about 2 miles east of the town of Worcester. It has an area of 827 acres, of which in 1905 302 were arable land, 385 permanent grass and 30 woods. (fn. 1) The soil is clay with a subsoil of Keuper Marl, growing crops of wheat and beans. A road from Droitwich to Worcester forms part of the southern boundary of the parish, and from it another road runs north to the village of Warndon, which lies in the centre of the parish. In the village there is a cross. The hamlet of Trotshill lies in the south. Most of the land in the parish is flat, but there is a slight rise towards the south, the highest point being 185 ft. above the ordnance datum on the Worcester road in the extreme south.
The Worcestershire Naturalists' Club visited Warndon on 18 June 1885, and its Transactions contain a description of the present manor-house erected in the 17th century on the site of that once inhabited by the Lygons. Remains of the moat that once surrounded the house and church were then visible, as well as a cellar and a heavy large-hinged iron-studded door, relics of the original house. (fn. 2)
At the date of the Domesday Survey Urse held WARNDON of the Bishop of Worcester's manor of Northwick. (fn. 3) The bishop's overlordship continued until the 13th century, (fn. 4) but it is not mentioned afterwards, and it apparently lapsed, Urse's descendants the Beauchamps, formerly intermediary lords, (fn. 5) holding directly of the king. The manor was held of the Beauchamps' manor of Elmley Castle, (fn. 6) until the overlordship lapsed, (fn. 7) probably soon after 1611, when the last mention of it occurs. (fn. 8)
The manor of Warndon was held in 1086 under Urse the Sheriff by Robert. (fn. 9) There is some indication that the Poers held the manor in the time of Henry II. Habington quotes a grant by Hugh Poer to the priory of Worcester of 2s. yearly from his chapel of Warndon, and assigns the date of this charter to the time of Henry II. (fn. 10) Further, in 1284–5 John Poer held land of the manor of Northwick in Warndon and elsewhere, (fn. 11) but the manor of Warndon was probably held by the Bracys (between whom and the Poers Habington deduces some connexion from a similarity in their coats of arms) (fn. 12) as early as the time of Henry I, for William de Bracy in 1166 held half a knight's fee in Worcestershire of William de Beauchamp, of ancient feoffment from the time of Henry I (fn. 13); indeed, Robert, who held at Warndon and Aston in 1086 under Urse the Sheriff, was probably an ancestor of the Bracy family, who held both at Warndon and Aston early in the 13th century. (fn. 14)
In 1205 Robert Bracy gave up to the Prior of Worcester all his claim to common of pasture at Lippard in exchange for a similar quitclaim by the prior as to common in Warndon. (fn. 15) From this time the manor followed the same descent (fn. 16) as that of Madresfield (fn. 17) (q.v.) until 1594, when Sir William Lygon sold it to Rowland Berkeley. (fn. 18) Rowland acquired the manor of Spetchley in 1606, and the descent of Warndon has been identical with that of Spetchley (q.v.) from that time, (fn. 19) the present owner being Mr. Robert Valentine Berkeley, J.P., D.L.
In 978 Bishop Oswald gave to Aethelnoth I mansa at SMITE. (fn. 20) This formed part of the manor of Northwick, and was held of the Bishops of Worcester as of that manor. (fn. 21) In the time of Henry II, Godfrey the Archdeacon held half a hide of land at Smite, (fn. 22) which had passed by 1299 to John Washbourne, also known as John de Dufford, son of Roger de Washbourne, who claimed to have held it of John de Dossigh and his wife Salima, who was a daughter of William de la Verne, though in 1299 he held it of the bishop in chief. (fn. 23) In 1327 Hugh de Dufford complained that certain persons broke his house at Smite and assaulted him. (fn. 24)
John Washbourne, by his will dated 1532, bequeathed the manor of Smite to his wife Margaret for her life. She afterwards married John Kettleby, and they were in possession of the manor at the time of the death of John Washbourne's son Anthony, upon whom they had settled the reversion in 1547. (fn. 25) John son of Anthony Washbourne was dealing with the manor in 1573, (fn. 26) and conveyed it in 1598 to his brother Robert. (fn. 27) Robert and his wife Mary sold it in 1601 to Rowland Berkeley, (fn. 28) who died seised of it ten years later. (fn. 29) An estate at Smite afterwards passed to the Solley family. Humphrey son of John Solley of Smite died unmarried about 1647, and was succeeded by his brother Thomas, from whom the estate passed to his son Thomas. (fn. 30)
Habington gives the following account of Smite: 'there lyethe in the north east of Warndon half a township called Smite, straungly divided, the one part in Warndon, the other in Claynes, and wheare the landes in theyre medowes weare yearely altered from one to another: the tythes interchangeably altered so theyre courses, thys yeere in Warndon the next in Claynes.' (fn. 31)
Smite is now in the parish of Hindlip, Upper and Lower Smite having been transferred from Warndon in 1880 and Smite Farm from Claines in the same year. (fn. 32)
The Grey Friars and Black Friars of Worcester owned land in Warndon in the 16th century, but it is not known at what date they acquired it or by whom it was given. After the Dissolution it was included in the grant of their possessions by Henry VIII in 1539 to the bailiffs and citizens of Worcester. (fn. 33)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS consists of a chancel and nave in one range, with a north porch of brick, and a west bell-tower constructed of timber. The earliest part of the church is the nave, which dates from the 12th century. Early in the 15th century the chancel was rebuilt, and probably about a century later the belltower was added. The porch is probably of the 17th century.
The east window of the chancel is of three lights, and has been considerably restored. In it are inserted some interesting fragments of 15th-century glass, including a beautifully coloured figure of the Virgin and Child and figures of St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Andrew. The north and south walls of the church contain five windows, three on the north and two on the south, all of two lights, with four small lights and flowing tracery above them under a square head. The 12th-century north and south doors (the latter blocked) have each a roll-moulded round head and jambs. There is a brick porch, apparently of the 17th-century, with wooden sprockets forming an arched entrance to the south door. The font at the west end of the nave is of 15th-century date, heptagonal in form and has a stem of the same thickness as the bowl, both being moulded and treated as a single member. The tower is of half-timber construction with hewn oak studding from 7 in. to 10 in. square and lath and plaster filling and is probably of 16th-century date. On the west is a two-light window with a plain square head.
A curious feature of the church is a chamber formed between the flat ceiling over the western part of the nave and the roof, and entered from the tower. The rest of the nave and chancel has a barrelshaped plaster ceiling. The seating of the church is of 18th-century date, but the lower part of the posts of the rood screen remain in the back of one of the pews, and above this is a single tie-beam with struts rising to the ceiling, the spaces between the struts being filled in with lath and plaster. The oak altarrails, of 17th-century date, are supported on turned balusters, and there is an oak communion table of the same date. There are also some carved cherubs, of the Grinling Gibbons type and a pelican in piety preserved in the tower, which are said to have come from the Cathedral at Worcester.
The belfry contains two bells and space for a third. The treble bears the name 'John Brook c w 1710' and the mark of Richard Saunders, the second is a pre-Reformation bell inscribed 'Sancte [Nicholas ?] Ora Pro nobis.' The original treble was sold in the middle of the 19th century, and, according to Prattinton, who visited the church in 1818, (fn. 34) bore the inscription 'Ave Maria Ora Pro nobis.'
The chapel of Warndon was originally annexed to the church of St. Helen Worcester. After the death of Bishop Wulfstan the monks committed the care of St. Helen's vicarage and all its members, in which the chapel of Warndon in Northwick was included, to Frithericus, priest of St. Helen's, for their use. (fn. 35) The chapel seems later on to have passed to Hugh Poer. (fn. 36) The first recorded institution is dated 1300, and the chapel had by that time become a church. (fn. 37) The presentation was made by Robert Bracy, lord of Warndon, and from that time the advowson has followed the same descent as the manor. (fn. 38)
The rectory was united with that of Spetchley in 1874. (fn. 39)
In 1374 the Prior of Worcester warned Thomas Feld, the rector, to return to his duties, which he had neglected. He, however, exchanged his living for St. Clement's, Worcester, in the following year. (fn. 40)
In 1542 Henry Holbeche, last Prior and first Dean of Worcester, (fn. 41) consecrated the church and churchyard, which were dedicated in honour of St. Nicholas. (fn. 42) This may have been when the tower was added to the church.
The legacies of £5 and £10 mentioned on the church table as having been left for the poor by the will of Richard Berwick, proved 1663, and by the will of Robert Berkeley, proved 1693, respectively, to be used as a permanent stock, appear to have been expended for some parochial object.
Charities of George Wingfield and Mrs. Anne Sumner.
—In or about 1813 Mrs. Anne Sumner, in pursuance of the will of George Wingfield, her first husband, bequeathed £100, the interest to be applied in gowns to clothe poor women, no woman to have a gown for two years together. The legacy is represented by £141 10s. 9d. consols, producing £3 10s. 8d. yearly. In 1909 fourteen gowns at 5s. 6d. each were distributed.
In 1822 Colonel Henry Barry, in fulfilment of the wishes of his sister Elizabeth Barry, by deed, gave £50 for the poor. This gift is represented by £54 0s. 4d. consols, the annual dividends of which, amounting to £1 7s., are distributed in bread.
The church table stated that a piece of meadow ground in the parish of Claines of about one-third of an acre, known as Church Meadow, was given to the poor. The land was sold in 1878, and the proceeds invested in £64 13s. 4d. consols, since augmented by accumulations to £76 10s. 9d. consols. The interest, amounting to £1 18s. yearly, is applied towards the maintenance of the church. The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees.