A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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Doverdale is a small parish a few miles north-west of Droitwich, and has an area of only 749 acres, of which 304 are arable land, about 400 permanent grass and 6 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) In 1901 the population was only 58, a slight increase on that of the middle of the 19th century. Noake states that in his time the parish consisted of only six houses and one labourer's cottage, 'the only one ever known there.' (fn. 2) The parish is watered by the Elmley or Doverdale Brook, which forms the boundary between Ombersley and Doverdale for some distance. The chief road is that from Hampton Lovett, on a branch of which to the south is the church of Doverdale. The old Moat Farm, possibly the manor-house, was burned down about 1850. The moat is now dry and the house has never been rebuilt.
The land is undulating, and varies from a height of 87 ft. above the ordnance datum on the banks of the Doverdale Brook to about 150 ft. in the north of the parish. The soil is clay and sandy loam, the subsoil clay and sandstone rock, raising crops of wheat, beans and barley. Agriculture is the only industry. Flax and hemp were cultivated in Worcestershire towards the end of the 18th century. Thomas Brooks of Doverdale claimed a bounty under the Act of 1780 in 1782 and some of the following years, and his claim was allowed at quarter sessions. (fn. 3)
In the time of King Edward the Confessor DOVERDALE was held by Thurbern, a thegn of the king. It had passed before 1086 to Urse D'Abitot, (fn. 4) from whom the overlordship passed to the owners of Elmley Castle. (fn. 5) The Savages of Elmley Castle claimed the overlordship at the time when Nash wrote his History of Worcestershire (c. 1780). (fn. 6)
The under-tenant mentioned in 1086 was a certain William, (fn. 7) whose successors, lords of the manor in the 12th and 13th centuries, were called 'de Doverdale.' In the reigns of John and Henry III, however, Richard de Ombersley held the manor as mesne lord under William de Beauchamp. (fn. 8)
In 1166 Walter de Doverdale held the manor by the service of one knight's fee, (fn. 9) and early in the 13th century William and Hugh Blund were in possession. (fn. 10) In a dispute as to the advowson of the church of Doverdale which arose in 1274 it was stated that the vill of Doverdale (fn. 11) had been divided (apparently in the time of Henry III) between two sisters, Aline and Idonea. (fn. 12) Ralph de Doverdale, great-grandson of Aline, who is probably to be identified with Ralph de Doverdale, who was deputed to inspect certain salt-pits at Droitwich in 1264, (fn. 13) died about 1274, leaving a son William, a minor, whose custody was in the hands of Richard de Ombersley. (fn. 14) William de Doverdale, coroner for Worcestershire, died about 1303, (fn. 15) and is probably to be identified with William de Sodington, who died at this time seised of the manors of Sodington and Doverdale, leaving as his heirs his nephew Richard, son of Reynold le Porter and Marisca eldest sister of William, and his sisters Eustacia wife of William de Doverdale and Joan wife of Walter Blount. (fn. 16) Doverdale was held jointly by these co-heirs about 1316, (fn. 17) but the Blounts (fn. 18) subsequently acquired the whole manor of Sodington, Eastham passed to the Porters, and Doverdale was apparently assigned to Eustacia and William de Doverdale. Although William had two sons (fn. 19) the manor became divided into moieties, passing to the families of Braz or Brace and Lench. Possibly Margery wife of Richard Brace of Droitwich, on whom half the manor was settled in 1335, (fn. 20) was a daughter of William de Doverdale, and Eustacia wife of Thomas Lench of Droitwich, on whom the other moiety was settled in 1371–2, may have been her sister. (fn. 21)
In 1428 the half a fee which Richard Brace had held belonged to his heir, (fn. 22) who was probably his son John, escheator of Worcestershire in 1403–4 and 1408–9 and justice of the peace in 1428–9. (fn. 23) John still held the manor in 1431, (fn. 24) but had probably been succeeded before 1434 by a son John. (fn. 25) This John was twice married. By his first wife he had a son Richard, whose daughters Margaret and Elizabeth married Robert Bromwich and John Ewnet respectively, and their representatives, William Bromwich, grandson of Margaret, and Rowland Ewnet, son of Elizabeth, claimed the manor at the beginning of the 16th century. (fn. 26) It seems, however, to have been settled upon John Brace, son of John Brace by his second wife, the settlement having probably been made about 1434, when Sir Humphrey Stafford of Grafton, father in-law of the younger John, presented with other trustees to the church of Doverdale. (fn. 27)
William Brace, who contributed six archers to the muster of 1539, was probably grandson of the younger John. (fn. 28) He died in 1543, (fn. 29) and his grandson Francis Brace (fn. 30) settled the manor in 1588 on his son Thomas on his marriage with Frances daughter of William Freer of Oxford, with contingent remainders in default of heirs male to Philip Brace, brother of Francis. (fn. 31) Thomas Brace died in his father's lifetime, leaving no son, so that on the death of Francis Brace in 1599 this moiety of the manor passed to Philip. (fn. 32) John Brace son of Philip held the manor in 1607, (fn. 33) and died in 1632. (fn. 34) His son Philip Brace compounded for his estates in 1646 (fn. 35) and died in 1671. (fn. 36) His two eldest sons having died without issue it passed to his third son Philip, who also died without issue in 1674. (fn. 37) His heirs were his four sisters, Penelope Brace, Mercy wife of Sir Simon Clarke of Salford Priors, co. Warwick, Elizabeth wife of William Mills of Mickleton and Welford, co. Gloucester, and Eleanor wife of Francis Woolmer of Grafton, (fn. 38) who all conveyed their shares of the manor in 1677 to Thomas Tyrer, Gerard Dannet and Ralph Taylor, (fn. 39) apparently for the use of Ralph Taylor, who was in possession in 1684. (fn. 40) It was possibly this moiety of the manor which was conveyed in 1772 by John Hill, John Taylor and his wife Anne and others to Wilson Aylesbury Roberts and Rowland Hill. (fn. 41) Nash states that South Hall, the manor-house of the Braces, was once held by a Mr. Clifton, (fn. 42) and that in 1780 it was held by James Newnham. (fn. 43) Later it was purchased by William Prattinton of Bewdley from Mr. Amphlett, and belonged in 1816 to P. Prattinton. (fn. 44) It was perhaps this part of the manor which was subsequently purchased by Sir John Somerset Pakington. (fn. 45) It then followed the same descent as the other part of the manor. (fn. 46)
The other half of the manor had probably passed from Thomas Lench and Eustacia to Henry Lench before 1422–3. (fn. 47) He was still holding it in 1431, (fn. 48) but it had passed before 1434 to John Lench. (fn. 49) On the accession of Edward IV John Lench was attainted and 'suffered dethe and losse all in the quarrell of sayntly Kinge Henry the syxt,' being found strangled in prison soon after he was condemned. (fn. 50) Doverdale with other property was granted to Sir Walter Scull and Frances his wife, (fn. 51) but on the accession of Henry VII was restored to John Lench, son of the above John. (fn. 52) He was succeeded by a son William, who held the manor in 1541, (fn. 53) and a grandson Ralph, who held it in 1603. (fn. 54) John Lench, who may have been son of Ralph, was lord of the manor in 1655 and 1673, (fn. 55) and by 1676 had been succeeded by George Lench. (fn. 56) He died in 1704, apparently leaving a son George, (fn. 57) who dealt with a mill in the manor in 1709. (fn. 58) This moiety of the manor passed to Captain Burrish and was sold towards the end of the 18th century by his son George. (fn. 59) It was probably this part of the manor which was sold in 1804 by John Mackmillan to Sir John Pakington, bart. (fn. 60) Sir John died without issue in 1830, and the manor passed to his nephew John Somerset Russell, who assumed the name Pakington and was created Lord Hampton. (fn. 61) He subsequently acquired the rest of the manor of Doverdale, (fn. 62) and from that time it followed the same descent as Hampton Lovett (q.v.), and was sold in 1902 to Mr. Edward Partington with the rest of the Westwood estate.
There was a mill worth 4s. at Doverdale in 1086. (fn. 63) It is not mentioned again until 1670, when it was conveyed by John Lench and his wife Sarah to Philip Brace and Thomas Symonds. (fn. 64) It apparently remained annexed to the Lench moiety of the manor, for George Lench was dealing with it in 1709, (fn. 65) and it is mentioned in conveyances of the manor in 1772 and 1804. (fn. 66) There is at the present day a watermill on the Elmley Brook at Doverdale.
Some of the walling of the nave appears to date from the end of the 12th century, and the small round arch to the blocked north doorway is evidently of that date. Beyond this there are no distinctive features left of any age. The nave windows have old stonework, perhaps of the 14th or 15th century, but have been much altered. The chancel was rebuilt about the middle of the last century, and the church has undergone several restorations.
The chancel arch and chancel are modern, with a traceried east window of three lights. The first windows in the north and south walls of the nave have each three plain rectangular lights with a pointed segmental rear arch, and near the west end on either side is a plain rectangular single light; between the two north windows is a blocked doorway, the head of which is semicircular, with a filleted angle roll. The entrance is by a doorway in the west wall, with a round window over, both modern. The bellturret is of modern woodwork and is supported on heavy wood posts in the nave and capped by a foursided spire covered with lead.
The font is modern. The nave walls are panelled all round with 17th-century woodwork; the panelling along the north wall and about half the south has a fluted top rail, and the rest is carved with semicircular interlacing arches filled with foliage.
There are three bells; the treble inscribed 'God be our speed 1660 I M' (John Martin of Worcester); the second, dated 1615 and bearing the initials of the churchwardens and the founder, Godwin Baker, with his mark the cross keys; the tenor inscribed 'Sancte Thome, ora pro nobis,' preceded by a flowered saltire.
There were a church and priest at Doverdale at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 67) The advowson was apparently held with the manor until in the reign of Henry III William de Doverdale, on succeeding to the estates of his grandmother Aline, gave the advowson to his cousin John, son of Idonea, (fn. 68) because John offered such opposition to his succession. (fn. 69) In 1274 the advowson belonged to William de Doverdale, evidently a descendant of John, but it was claimed by Simon de Ombersley, to whom certain lands in the manor had been demised during the minority of the heir of Ralph de Doverdale by the overlord, Richard de Ombersley. William was able to make good his right to the advowson. (fn. 70) He presented to the church in 1275, (fn. 71) and may possibly be identified with William called le Wyte of Doverdale, who presented in 1294. (fn. 72) William son of Ralph de Doverdale, who married Eustacia, one of the daughters and co-heirs of William de Sodington, was probably a descendant of William le Wyte, and by his marriage the advowson and the manor once more became united. The advowson seems to have become annexed to the moiety of the manor held by the Braces, (fn. 73) and descended with it until nearly the end of the 17th century. It was included with the manor in a conveyance of 1677, (fn. 74) but seems to have been sold shortly after. John Price presented for one turn in 1688, and Thomas Egginton presented in 1704 and 1716. (fn. 75) He conveyed the advowson in 1722 to Thomas Brett. (fn. 76) Peter Cassey and Mercy his wife and others presented in 1744 and William Griffin in 1750 and 1762. (fn. 77) It had passed from him before 1765 to Robert Harrison, (fn. 78) who conveyed the advowson and rectory in 1770 to Richard Harrison. (fn. 79) This conveyance may have been made with a view to the purchase of the advowson by Hugh Laurents, for he presented to the church in 1771 and 1788, (fn. 80) and conveyed the advowson in 1789 to Richard Fuller. (fn. 81) The Rev. P. Laurents was said to be patron in 1808, (fn. 82) though George Thomas presented to the church in 1807, (fn. 83) and was patron in 1829. (fn. 84) The advowson had passed before 1849 to the Oldham family, (fn. 85) one of whom, Mrs. Curtler, was patron in 1868. (fn. 86) About ten years later the advowson was purchased of the representatives of the Oldhams by Mrs. C. P. Mottram, the present patron.
In the 15th century the rector of Doverdale paid 2s. yearly to the church of Hartlebury. (fn. 87)
In 1892 the Rev. James Oldham, by his will proved at Worcester 17 March, left £300, the interest to be applied towards the repair of the fabric of the church and of the fences and gates of the churchyard. The legacy was invested in £278 14s. 11d. consols with the official trustees, producing £6 19s. 4d. yearly.