A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
LEIGH with BRANSFORD
Leigh is a large agricultural parish and includes the chapelry of Bransford and the hamlets of Leigh Sinton, Brockamin, Brace's Leigh, Upper and Lower Howsell and Upper and Lower Sandlin. In 1894, by order of the Local Government Board, Malvern Link, which had been formed into an ecclesiastical parish in 1846, (fn. 1) was separated from Leigh and formed into a civil parish. (fn. 2) Part of Cradley was transferred to Leigh in 1897. (fn. 3) Leigh has an area of 4,943 acres, Bransford 1,062 acres, and Malvern Link 745 acres. The greater part of Leigh and Bransford is devoted to pasture, but there are about 2,366 acres of arable land. (fn. 4) The chief crops grown are wheat, barley and beans, while hops, apples for cider, and pears are largely grown in the Teme Valley. There was a vineyard at Leigh in the 13th century. (fn. 5) The soil is clay and the subsoil Keuper Marl with Alluvium near the River Teme. From the river a wide, flat valley stretches to the south. The land rises sharply near the Malvern Hills and reaches a height of about 447ft. above the ordnance datum near Cowleigh Park.
The village of Leigh is in the north of the parish, on the right bank of the Teme. The church of St. Eadburga is on rising ground separated by the railway from the river bank. Leigh Court stood close to the church on the north side, but the house has disappeared and a two-story red brick dwelling stands on or near the site. The great barn, however, still stands to the west of the present house, and is a fine example of the method of construction known as 'building on crucks,' the crucks in this case being set about 13 ft. 6 in. from centre to centre. The barn, which consists of ten bays, is 33 ft. 6 in. wide and has two gabled porches on the south side. The roof is covered with red tiles and is hipped in the upper part at each end. To the south-east of the house are two picturesque brick garden lodges, measuring 13 ft. square externally, with curved gables on each face and standing 10 ft. 6 in. apart on either side of wooden entrance gates hung on stone posts. The buildings appear to be of early 17th-century date and are of two stories with low mullioned windows and stone quoins and dressings. They stand south-east and north-west and have sundials in the gables on those sides. Together with the old walled garden to the east they form a very charming picture as seen from the churchyard. (fn. 6) The older house was perhaps that built by Sir Walter Devereux in the 17th century. (fn. 7) There is here an old square dovecot with brick walls rebuilt over a circular one. It has a revolving ladder left, but is no longer in use. (fn. 8) Leigh Brook, a considerable stream, flows past the Court and falls into the Teme near by. Near the Court is a corn-mill standing on the brook.
Adjoining Leigh is Brockamin, a small hamlet consisting of about six farms. On Leigh Brook, near the western boundary of the parish, is Hopton Court, (fn. 9) the property of Col. S. A. Stephenson Fetherstonhaugh. Further south are Stitchins Hill, Upper and Lower Sandlin and Upper and Lower Howsell, the two latter on the outskirts of Malvern Link. Near Howsell is Whippet's Brook.
Malvern Link, (fn. 10) situated north-east of Great Malvern, is, with Quest Hills, a rapidly increasing suburb of Great Malvern and forms an important part of the town. A chapel belonging to Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, built in 1861, is now used as a Sunday school, a new chapel having been built in 1904. The Wesleyan school chapel was built in 1907. Stocks Lane, near the eastern boundary, leads north to Leigh Sinton (Sodyngton, xiii-xiv cent.), where there is a Congregational chapel built in 1829. Moat House Farm, near by, has the remains of a surrounding moat. There is a pound by the high road. Near Leigh Sinton a brook flows east past Brook Farm and Brookend Farm to Brace's Leigh, which is about a mile east of Leigh Sinton.
About half a mile north of Brace's Leigh is Bransford. It was the birthplace of Wulstan de Bransford, Bishop of Worcester (1338–49). (fn. 11) In 1338 he built the bridge across the Teme here, (fn. 12) which was broken down by the Scots army in 1651. (fn. 13) Near the chapel of St. John Baptist is Hall Farm, which belonged in 1868 to Mr. Little, (fn. 14) who also held Gilbert's Farm, which has the remains of a moat. The rectory stands about midway between the churches of Bransford and Leigh. Close to Bromyard Junction and near the Teme is Bransford Court, now in Powick parish.
At Bransford Bridge is a corn-mill. There were formerly a snuff-mill and a cloth factory by the Teme at Bransford, (fn. 15) but they have disappeared. The people are now chiefly occupied in agriculture, but in 1868 there was a small manufactory for agricultural implements, (fn. 16) and some of the women were glovesewers. (fn. 17)
A little to the west of Bransford is Castle Green, named after the moated mound here which formed the little manorial stronghold possibly thrown up in the 13th century by Henry de Pembridge, who was engaged in lawless acts during the Barons' War. (fn. 18) In the Bromyard register there is an account of a man and a boy who were killed in 1646 in a skirmish by soldiers stationed in 'praesidio quod dicitur Lye.' (fn. 19) Near Castle Green are Cherkenhill, Smith End Green, where is a Wesleyan chapel built in 1839, and Sherridge, the residence of the Hon. Mrs. Norbury.
In 1776 an Act was passed for inclosing the common fields in Leigh together with 'the common called The Link.' (fn. 20) Disputes arose owing to the fact that some of the land was within Malvern Chase, and the inclosure was not effected till 1778. (fn. 21)
The following are some place-names that occur: Bedmingeham, Wurncheshull, Eudenhulle, Haggeford, La Godde, La Homme, Empeshaledich, (fn. 22) La Linche, Le Parke, Hirdemonstocking, Warwykesich, Menstocking, Crowehale, Mosewate, Scywardesmore, Hastane, Hascefeld, Hascheneld, Instomepirrich, Halrebrot (fn. 23) (xiii cent.); Ruydwey, Alvelonde, Edenhull, Malefeld, Hulle Mulleleye, (fn. 24) Boroghey, Impehey, Shephey, Moremede, Rennseyhale, Brercroft, (fn. 25) Appynges, Shepdesplace, Buddestyle, Wadeplace, Douceplace, Shurugges, Puttelend, Wynnesmer, Scloppes (fn. 26) (xv cent.); Le Waturfurlong, (fn. 27) Ayliffe, Godishalles (fn. 28) (xvi cent.).
Before the Conquest LEIGH was held by the abbey of Pershore, to which abbey it still belonged in 1086. It then gelded at 3 hides, one of which was held by the abbot in demesne. (fn. 29) The abbey continued to hold an estate here, to which additions were made from time to time (fn. 30); in 1291 it comprised 2 carucates of land. (fn. 31) Leigh seems to have been an occasional residence of the abbots, one of whom, Henry de Caldewell, died 'at his manor of Leigh' in 1289. (fn. 32) At the Dissolution the abbey's manor of Leigh was valued at £67 0s. 8½d., the bailiff at that date being one William Colles (fn. 33); in 1553 he had a lease of the manor-house for sixty-seven years. (fn. 34) In 1576 the site of the manor and all the demesne lands in the tenure of Edmund son of William Colles (fn. 35) were granted to Christopher Hatton, (fn. 36) while Robert Earl of Leicester in 1573–4 had a grant of various abbey lands there. (fn. 37) Before 1585 Edmund Colles had bought part of the demesne lands and held the rest by lease under the Crown. (fn. 38) In 1590 he had a grant of the whole manor of Leigh, (fn. 39) and in 1605 he acquired the lands there previously granted to the Earl of Leicester. (fn. 40) He is described by Habington as 'that grave and learned justice of this shire.' (fn. 41) He died in 1606, having in 1583 settled the manor of Leigh on his son William (fn. 42) on his marriage with Mary Palmer. In 1615 William, with his son Edmund, made over the manor to trustees, Sir Walter Leveson and Humphrey Colles, to be sold for the payment of his debts, (fn. 43) 'Ley being so surcharged with debte, which (as a snowball rowlinge downe from Malverne's hyll gatherethe greatnes) increased so with huge usery, as for discharge thereof Ley was sould.' (fn. 44) William Colles died in September of the same year (fn. 45) (1615), and in 1617 the trustees sold Leigh to Sir Walter Devereux of Castle Bromwich, (fn. 46) who in 1646 succeeded to the peerage as Viscount Hereford. (fn. 47) He was M.P. for Worcester in 1625 (fn. 48) and sheriff of the county in 1625–6. (fn. 49) He died about 1657 (fn. 50) and (his eldest son Essex having been drowned at Leigh in 1639) (fn. 51) was succeeded by his second son Leicester, (fn. 52) who was one of the six peers sent to invite Charles II to return in 1660. (fn. 53) He was a captain in Prince Rupert's horse in 1676 and died in that year. (fn. 54) He was succeeded in turn by two sons, Leicester and Edward, both of whom died without issue. Their heir was their sister Anne, who in 1700 married Leicester Martin, settling on him the manor of Leigh. (fn. 55) Her only daughter and heir (fn. 56) Elizabeth married her cousin Price Devereux, who succeeded in 1740 as Viscount Hereford. (fn. 57) Elizabeth died without issue before 1740, (fn. 58) but Price held this manor till 1742, (fn. 59) when it was sold to James Cocks, (fn. 60) who died in 1750. (fn. 61) His son James was killed at St. Cas in 1758, and being unmarried his estates passed to his uncle John Cocks (fn. 62) (d. 1771), whose son Charles succeeded to the peerage as Lord Somers in 1784. (fn. 63) He died in 1806. His son John, who was created Earl Somers in 1821, married Margaret daughter of the Rev. Treadway Nash, the Worcestershire historian. (fn. 64) He died in 1841, succeeded by his second but eldest surviving son John, (fn. 65) who died in 1852. His son Charles, the third earl, died without male issue in 1883. He bequeathed his Worcestershire estates for life to his eldest daughter Isabella Caroline, (fn. 66) who married Lord Henry Somerset. Lady Henry Somerset has recently sold most of her property at Leigh.
Sir Walter Devereux and Robert Berkeley of Spetchley in 1625 had licence to make a free park at Leigh, Cradley and Cowleigh for stags, deer and other game and to inclose it and keep it stocked and guarded. (fn. 69) 'The Park' in Leigh, however, is mentioned in 1576 (fn. 70); at that date it was possibly only a fieldname.
The manor of BRANSFORD (Bradnesforde, Brainesford, xi cent.; Branefford, xii cent.; Branesford, Bramesford, xiii-xiv cent.; Braunceford, xvixvii cent.; Braunsford, xvii-xviii cent.) is said to have been given to the abbey of Evesham by Ethelbald son of Alwi, King of the Mercians, in the year 716. (fn. 71) The same chronicle, however, states that Bransford was acquired for the abbey by Ethelwig (abbot 1059–77) when he was at the head of affairs under Abbot Manny (1044–59). (fn. 72) This story accords better with the Domesday account, which says that Bransford belonged to the abbey of Pershore in the reign of Edward the Confessor, but that on the day of Edward's death it was held by the abbey of Evesham. (fn. 73) The chronicle is by no means clear as to the further history of Bransford. In one place it states that it was given by Abbot Ethelwig to Urse in exchange for Bengeworth, (fn. 74) while in another place Bransford is included among the lands which Odo Bishop of Bayeux filched from the abbey in the time of Abbot Walter (1077–1104) (fn. 75) and gave to Urse, (fn. 76) who held a hide here in 1086 as part of Leigh. (fn. 77)
Urse's descendant, William Beauchamp, in the reign of Stephen still held this hide and had acquired another hide which he held of the abbey of Westminster. (fn. 78) His heirs, the Beauchamps of Elmley, afterwards Earls of Warwick, (fn. 79) held Bransford as overlords (fn. 80) till the 14th century. They seem to have held the manor in demesne until after the death of William Beauchamp in 1269, when it passed to his third son Walter, (fn. 81) and was settled on him and his wife Alice by his elder brother John in 1269. (fn. 82) Walter Beauchamp in 1300 had a grant of free warren in his demesne lands at Bransford. (fn. 83) His descendants, the Beauchamps of Powick, held this manor, which descended with Powick (fn. 84) (q.v.) and is now held by Earl Beauchamp.
In 1608 Sir William Lygon granted the site of the manor of Bransford to William Worfeild, (fn. 85) who died in 1623. (fn. 86) His son and successor John Worfeild sold the site in 1638 to John Worfeild of Powick, who sold it in 1667 to Francis Walker and George Fellowes in trust for his grandchildren Mary and Elizabeth Rea. (fn. 87) About 1671 (fn. 88) Mary married William younger son of Sir William Cookes, (fn. 89) and Bransford Manor was settled on her. (fn. 90) William Cookes died in 1673, (fn. 91) and in 1676 she settled the manor on herself and her second husband Basil Fielding. (fn. 92) She and her sister Elizabeth Winckley sold it in 1684 to her brother-in-law Sir Thomas Cookes. (fn. 93) He died without issue in 1701, (fn. 94) and from notes in the Prattinton Collection it is clear that John Cookes succeeded him at Bransford as at Bentley Pauncefoot (see Tardebigge).
BRACE'S LEIGH (Bracy Legh, xiv cent.; Braces Ligh, Bracyes Leigh, xvii cent.) is probably to be identified with the 1½ hides in Leigh held by Urse in 1086. (fn. 95) In the reign of Stephen Urse's descendant William Beauchamp held half a hide in Leigh (Lega Ricardi). (fn. 96) The manor of Brace's Leigh was subsequently held of the Beauchamps' barony of Elmley Castle (fn. 97) by the Bracy family, the overlordship of the Beauchamps being last mentioned in 1634. Sir William Bracy in the time of Abbot Eler (1249–63) granted to the abbey of Pershore a meadow called Badmingham in Leigh. (fn. 98) Robert de Bracy in 1316 held three fees in Warndon, Madresfield and Leigh. (fn. 99) Brace's Leigh is first mentioned as a manor in that year. (fn. 100) It descended with the manor of Madresfield (q.v.) till 1620, (fn. 101) when it was sold by Sir William Lygon's executors to Eusebius Andrews and Edward Penell. It appears to have been bought from them by Charles Greville, (fn. 102) two-thirds of whose estate was requestered for recusancy in 1630 and granted in 1633 for twenty-one years to George Lowe of the City of London. (fn. 103) Greville died in 1634, and his estate was recovered by his four heirs, his nieces Mary wife of Sir Arthur Ingram, Katherine wife of Sir William Ingram, and his two greatnephews Edward Penell, jun., and Edward Whitakers. (fn. 104) In 1640, (fn. 105) and 1651, (fn. 106) respectively, Penell acquired the shares of Katherine Ingram and Edward Whitakers. In 1669 he sold the whole manor to Richard Hill, (fn. 107) who died about 1676, leaving as coheirs his two daughters, Susanna wife of Chambers Slaughter (fn. 108) and Alethea wife of John Cotton. (fn. 109) The manor of Brace's Leigh fell to the share of Susanna. (fn. 110) Chambers Slaughter died in 1718, (fn. 111) his son Paris having predeceased him in 1684. (fn. 112) His heirs sold Brace's Leigh in 1741 to John Garway, (fn. 113) who with Elizabeth his wife and Caleb Garway sold it in 1759 to Holland Cooksey; (fn. 114) he sold it in 1769 to Charles Trubshaw Withers, (fn. 115) who resided there until 1797. (fn. 116) It was bought by Lady Beauchamp early in the 19th century, and was left by her son John third Earl Beauchamp to his first wife's nephew, Colonel Charles Grantham Scott, of whom it was repurchased about 1865, Earl Beauchamp being the present owner. (fn. 117)
In 1328 Robert Bracy had a grant of free warren in his demesne of Brace's Leigh. (fn. 118)
The manor of CASTLE LEIGH (Castellegh, Castellygh, xiv cent.) is perhaps to be identified with the manor of Leigh held of the Abbots of Pershore in the 13th century by the Pembridge family. (fn. 119) Henry de Pembridge, son of Henry ' de Cleyhongre,' (fn. 120) died before 1272. (fn. 121) He had been embroiled in the Barons' War and lost his lands by his depredations after the peace concluded at Winchester in 1265, when his lands in Leigh were given to Matthew de Gamages. (fn. 122) His son Henry in 1272 claimed the restoration of his lands by virtue of the Dictum of Kenilworth, (fn. 123) and recovered Leigh from Gamages. (fn. 124) Henry died before 1279, (fn. 125) and was succeeded by his son Fulk, who was alive in 1282. (fn. 126) There is no further mention of this family in connexion with Leigh until 1344–5, when the manor of Castle Leigh was granted by Thomas de Compton and John de Middelham to Peter de Montfort for life, with remainder to Alice wife of Richard le Noners for her life, and remainder on her death to Robert de Pembridge and his heirs. (fn. 127) In 1384–5 peaceable possession of the manor of Castle Leigh was secured to the Abbot and convent of Pershore by Robert Forstall of Leigh, Isabella his wife and Richard their son. (fn. 128) It was subordinate to the abbey's manor of Leigh (fn. 129) till the Dissolution, and in 1574 the site with the demesne land was granted to the Earl of Leicester. (fn. 130) The site of the manor with lands in Leigh was granted in 1605 to Edmund Colles, (fn. 131) and from that date has descended with the manor of Leigh. (fn. 132)
LEIGH SINTON (Sodyngton, xiv cent.; Lye Sinton or Syddington, xvi cent.) appears to have been held of the abbey of Pershore by the Andrews family from a very early date. Richard Andrews of Leigh about the middle of the 13th century had a grant of land in Howseil from the abbot, (fn. 133) and Richard Andrews of Sinton occurs about the same date. (fn. 134) One of that name was a landholder in Leigh in 1276. (fn. 135) Richard Andrews is mentioned at Sinton in 1332–3 (fn. 136) and again in 1388, (fn. 137) while Richard and Robert Andrews both appear in 1449, (fn. 138) and in 1451 Richard seems to have been a holder of land. (fn. 139) Margaret Andrews occurs in 1458 (fn. 140) and William son of Richard Andrews about 1467–72. (fn. 141) Leigh Sinton is first mentioned as a manor in 1542, when it was in the possession of Richard Andrews of Freefolk (Hampshire), who died in that year, leaving three daughters, Katherine, Constance and Ursula. (fn. 142) Constance's share was conveyed in 1568 to Ursula's husband, (fn. 143) Henry Norris, (fn. 144) while Katherine's portion was sold in 1575 to Edmund Colles. (fn. 145) Before his death in 1606 Edmund acquired the whole property, (fn. 146) which has since followed the descent of Leigh. (fn. 147)
In 1086 four mills were included in the manors of Leigh and Bransford. Two of these belonged to the abbot's demesne, the remaining two being held by Urse. (fn. 148) A mill at Leigh is mentioned as belonging to the abbey at various times during the 13th century. (fn. 149) There was a mill at Howsell in 1234–51 (fn. 150) and at Sandlin in 1249–63. (fn. 151) From 1385 to 1529 the millers of Brockamin were frequently charged with taking excessive toll. (fn. 152) A water-mill at Leigh Sinton is mentioned in the reign of Henry VI (fn. 153) and again in 1542, when it is called 'Hill Mill,' (fn. 154) and a mill there is mentioned in 1607. (fn. 155) There was a water-mill at Brace's Leigh in the 17th century. (fn. 156) Bransford Mills were reserved from the sale of Brace's Leigh in 1620 and passed to the widow of Sir William Lygon. (fn. 157) Corn and china-mills under one roof, on the Teme, were sold by auction in 1814. (fn. 158) There is now a corn-mill near Leigh Court and another, disused, at Malvern Link.
The church of ST. EADBURGA consists of chancel 37 ft. 6 in. by 18 ft. 6 in., nave 58 ft. 6 in. by 25 ft. 6 in., south aisle 61 ft. by 19 ft. and west tower 14 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. There is also a timber porch 9 ft. 8 in. square in front of the west doorway. The aisle overlaps the chancel 10 ft. and is open to it by an arch. The width across the nave and aisle is 47 ft. 10 in.
The oldest portions of the building are the north wall of the nave and the western part of the chancel, which date from c. 1100. A niche over the north doorway with a figure of our Lord in benediction and the flat buttresses of the nave and chancel are of this period, but with these exceptions little or no architectural detail belonging to the original building remains. The south arcade and the chancel arch are of c. 1180; the north and south windows of the chancel and the whole of its eastern bay, and the east and west walls of the aisle, together with the arch between the aisle and the chancel, are of 13th-century date. The tower is probably of c. 1380, and the windows and buttresses on the north side of the nave also date from the 14th century, but may be rather earlier; the west porch belongs to the 15th century, and the east window and the whole of the south wall of the aisle are modern.
The early 12th-century church probably consisted of a chancel and aisleless nave, the chancel perhaps about 24 ft. long and the nave approximately the same size as at present, though its extent westward cannot actually be stated. About 1180 a narrow south aisle was added and the chancel arch reconstructed. There may have been a transeptal chapel at the east end of the aisle, otherwise it is difficult to account for the great width of the aisle as rebuilt in the 13th century. It seems reasonable to suppose that at this later period the new aisle absorbed a then existing transept and was continued further east, but there is no positive evidence of this. The nature of the east wall and the position of the west window suggest that the aisle is of the original width as rebuilt in the 13th century, and the section of the responds of the arch opening to the chancel shows the work to have been fairly advanced in the period. At the same time probably the chancel was lengthened and the existing tall lancet windows inserted in the north and south walls. The next change occurred in the 14th century, when new windows were inserted in the north wall of the nave and the wall itself was probably heightened, buttresses being added, the erection of the tower following towards the end of the century. Except for the addition of the timber porch the plan of the building has since undergone no change. In Nash's time the chancel was 'much neglected and very ruinous,' (fn. 159) and the nave and aisle were full of high pews facing in various directions. (fn. 160) Until 1855 there was a gallery across the west end of the nave and the tower arch was blocked up, but in that year the church was restored, the south wall of the aisle was rebuilt, the whole of the walls and the roofs of the nave and aisle freed from plaster, the gallery removed, a ringing chamber constructed in the tower and a new east window and doorway inserted in the chancel. (fn. 161) The gallery, plaster ceilings and high pews indicate a good deal of internal change in the 18th century. The pews were at a later date replaced by open seats and new quire stalls, reredos and pulpit erected.
With the exception of the tower, which is faced with ashlar, the church is built throughout of rubble masonry and the roofs are eaved and covered with modern red tiles. The aisle is under a separate gabled roof and the roof of the nave is of slightly flatter pitch than that of the chancel. The east wall of the chancel is plastered externally and the gable has been rebuilt in brick. The east window is of five lights with geometrical tracery, and the angle buttresses are of two stages. The 13th-century masonry, including the inserted windows, is of red stone, the older work being grey. The chancel consists of three bays, the easternmost with a wide chamfered plinth, but the western bay is covered on the south side by the overlap of the aisle. Two original tall pilaster buttresses remain on the north side and one on the south with portions of a 12thcentury string-course about 10 ft. 6 in. above the ground. This, no doubt, went all round the chancel externally, but is now broken through by the later windows. These consist of very tall lancet lights with double-chamfered jambs and wide internal splays, and, with the exception of the westernmost on the north side, all the windows have trefoiled heads. On the south the sills are flat inside and the openings are all 2 ft. in width and without hood moulds. In the usual position in the south wall is a rectangular piscina with trefoiled head. The walls internally are of bare stone, colour-washed and lined, and the roof is modern. (fn. 162) The chancel arch is pointed and of two chamfered orders without hood mould, springing from responds composed of a middle and two angle shafts with separate cushion capitals and square chamfered abaci. The chamfer of the outer order is very slight, and both are stopped above the imposts. The shafts are 6 in. in diameter and have moulded bases. (fn. 163) On the south side of the opening, which is 12 ft. 6 in. wide, is a squint with pointed head. An encaustic tile pavement was laid in the chancel in 1855 over the monumental flags which formed the flooring. (fn. 164) The south wall is open at its west end to the aisle, but the arch is now hidden by the organ. It consists of two chamfered orders and springs from responds composed of attached shafts with a fillet on the face, having moulded bases and capitals carved with stiff foliage. The altar rails arc of oak, apparently of 17th-century date, with turned balusters and carved rail. All the other chancel fittings are modern.
The nave is of four bays and retains an original double pilaster buttress at the north-east corner and another similar single buttress further west. The south arcade consists of four pointed arches of two square orders, with chamfered hood mould on the nave side, springing from circular piers with moulded bases and shallow scalloped capitals, and from responds consisting of two attached shafts with carved capitals and moulded bases. The abaci in all cases are square and the bases stand on square plinths. The westernmost arch is badly shaped and considerably narrower than the others and the respond is falling outwards. A small nail-head ornament occurs in the capital of the middle pier and the scalloping is there larger in size. The height to the underside of the capitals is 11 ft. With the exception of the piers and arches the whole of the internal stonework of the nave is coloured as in the chancel. The arcade does not extend the full length of the nave, there being a 10-ft. straight length of walling at the west end. On the north side the nave is lighted by three tall windows of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoils in the heads and having double-chamfered jambs and hood moulds. The windows occupy the first, second and fourth bays from the east and vary somewhat in detail, but all are probably of the early part of the 14th century. The later buttresses are of three stages with triangular tops, and the north doorway has a plain four-centred arch in one stone. It is now built up. Above is the round-headed niche already referred to. The arch is moulded and springs from angle shafts with cushioned capitals and moulded bases. The figure of our Lord, which is 4 ft. 10 in. high, 'is seen standing with the cross of the Resurrection in the left hand and giving the benediction with the right. The nimbus round the head is cruciferous.' (fn. 165) The niche may possibly have been moved higher when the present doorway was inserted, but this is uncertain.
The aisle is lighted at the east end by two lancet windows with single-chamfered jambs set on either side of a tall buttress of two stages. The heads are without hood moulds, and internally the openings are contained within a single wide pointed arch. There is an original double buttress at the south-east corner, but west of this the whole of the walling has been rebuilt as far as the south-west angle. The west wall is old and retains a single-light trefoiled window. The aisle is sometimes known as the Bransford aisle, and the east bay formed a chapel, divided from the rest of the aisle by a 15th-century oak screen. The stairs and the upper doorway to the loft have been retained in the rebuilt south wall. From the north end of the loft a doorway led through the nave wall to the loft in front of the chancel arch, but the opening is now built up. In the east wall of the aisle are two aumbries with plain pointed arches, but the piscina, which was in the usual position in the south wall, has disappeared. The screen has a square-headed middle opening with four divisions on each side having traceried heads. The beam supporting the loft is carried by shaped pieces at either end, and above is a line of quatrefoil ornament and cresting. The screen was repainted by the Rev. Edward Bradley ('Cuthbert Bede'), who was assistant priest at Leigh in 1855–7: 'He followed the original colouring, which had grown dim with age, but did not finish it,' the gilding being still represented by yellow paint. (fn. 166) In the south wall of the aisle is a low canopied recess with wide open cusped arch under a hollow label, a reproduction of an old feature, the apex ornament alone being original.
The tower is faced with large square ashlar blocks and has a moulded plinth and diagonal buttresses of four stages going up to the middle of the upper story, above which a very slight and narrow pilaster strip is taken up each face of the angle to the top of the embattled parapet. Originally there were angle pinnacles, but these have disappeared. Externally the tower is of two stages divided by a string, and has a low pyramidal red-tiled roof with cock vane. Internally there are four stages, the lower one open to the nave. The vice is in the south-west corner and finishes above the parapet with a stone roof. The belfry windows are of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in the head, but are without hood moulds, and there are single-light trefoil-headed windows to the ringing chamber on three sides. On the north and south the lower parts of the walls are blank, but above the west doorway is a modern pointed window of four lights and perpendicular tracery. The doorway has a pointed arch of two hollow-chamfered orders continued to the ground, but the top is hidden by the timber porch. The lofty tower arch is of two chamfered orders, the inner dying into the wall and the outer continued to the ground. On the south side of the doorway, within the porch, is a shallow moulded basin with water drain, which is stated to have 'been replaced in its present position when the church was restored in 1855, after lying for years neglected in a corner of the church.' (fn. 167) It appears to be a piscina and may belong to the chapel at the east end of the aisle. The semicircular projecting bowl has carvings on the under side, one a priest's head and the other the figure of an animal, and the orifice of the drain is formed by the mouth of a lion. The porch has an open-timbered gable with carved barge-boards and pointed doorway. The sides have two openings, each of three lights, in the top portion, the lower part being filled in with stone. The roof is covered with modern red tiles and cuts into the window above.
The font is of 12th-century date and consists of a circular bowl carved with cheveron and scallop ornament standing on a modern stem and base. The bowl is entirely covered with ornament with a band of cabling round the lower edge, and a small nailhead occurs in places between the scalloping.
It remains to notice the four 17th-century monuments in the chancel. The first is a table tomb against the south wall to Edmund Colles, who died in 1606, on which is a recumbent effigy (fn. 168) in civil habit, the feet resting on a lion. At the east end are the arms of Colles impaling Somerville, and at the west Colles with a molet for difference impaling Whitgift, and Hanwell impaling Colles. The long side of the tomb facing north is divided into three compartments, in which are these arms (from east to west): I. Colles impaling Townsend; 2. Colles with a label of three points impaling Palmer; 3. Colles with a crescent for difference impaling Blount. The monument is richly carved with elaborate Renaissance ornament, both within and between the panels, and traces of colour remain on the figure. On the wall above are the arms and crest of Colles and 'some verses that are scarce legible.' (fn. 169) The inscription round the tomb is obliterated, but is recorded by Nash. (fn. 170)
Against the north wall, between the first and second windows from the east, is a large Renaissance monument, with two kneeling figures below a segmental arch supported by two square pillars, to William Colles (d. 1615) and Mary Palmer his wife (d. 1602). The man is in armour and his wife kneels behind him, while above the figures is a shield of arms with helm, crest, and mantling, Colles impaling Palmer quartered with Harthill and Mountney. The spandrels are ornamented with winged figures, whose feet rest on small shields with the arms of Colles and Palmer. On the base of the monument are the kneeling figures of twelve children, seven sons and five daughters, but the inscriptions which occur on the frieze and along the top of the base are nearly obliterated. (fn. 171)
Further west against the north wall is the panelled alabaster altar tomb to Sir Walter Devereux erected in 1642. It stands under a tester carried by four circular shafts with Ionic capitals and moulded bases, and by pilasters at either end against the wall. The back is recessed below a wide semicircular arch panelled on the soffit, to allow space for the two recumbent figures of Sir Walter and his wife Elizabeth Knightley. Sir Walter is represented in armour, with pointed beard and ruff, his feet resting against a talbot's head coming out of a crown, and with a sword by his side. On the base are two tiers of three panels, the upper containing the kneeling figures of six children, five sons and a daughter, the lower being plain. The arches supporting the tester have each a cherub's head at the crown, and the whole of the detail is of a very refined character. The monument was erected before the death of Sir Walter and his wife, and the spaces left for the dates have not been filled. The inscription is on a panel below the semicircular arch.
Above this is an elaborate mural monument to Essex Devereux, eldest son of Sir Walter, who was drowned in crossing the river by the oversetting of the boat on 20 February 1639. The monument bears the figures of Essex Devereux and his wife Anne Courteen kneeling at a desk, with a child between them, and is surmounted by the arms of Devereux impaling Courteen. (fn. 172) A helm and pennon used to hang over this monument. (fn. 173)
At the west end of the nave, but formerly on the south wall of the chancel, (fn. 174) is a mural monument to George Freke, who was drowned at the same time as Essex Devereux. It bears his arms impaling Digby. (fn. 175)
There is a ring of six bells in the tower. The first four were cast in 1711 by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester, the treble being recast at the same place in 1766, the fifth is by John Warner & Sons of London, 1863, and the tenor by John Rudhall, 1819. The whole were refitted and rehung in 1904. (fn. 176) The clock, which has a dial facing west, dates from 1858. It is said to have replaced one of wood. (fn. 177)
The plate includes a chalice and paten of 1571 with the usual floral band, a small old cup of peculiar shape without hall marks, and a paten and flagon. (fn. 178)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1538 to 1678, burials 1538 to 1673, and marriages 1538 to 1672; (ii) all entries 1689 to 1785; (iii) marriages 1754 to 1807; (iv) baptisms and burials 1785 to 1812; (v) marriages 1807 to 1812.
The chapel at Bransford, which is dedicated to ST. JOHN BAPTIST, stands on a slight knoll some little distance to the south-east of the village, and is in plan a plain rectangle 54 ft. 6 in. long internally by 18 ft. wide. The building is of stone with red tiled roof and has a wooden bell-turret at the west end with pyramidal slated roof, and a timber porch on the south side. There is no distinction of chancel and nave except for a buttress on the north side; there are diagonal buttresses at the east end. The structure has been much altered from time to time and the walls are very much patched, but it dates substantially from the 13th century. A window on the south side to the west of the porch is of that period, but another single-light opening further east appears to be a modern copy of a 15th-century window, at which time most likely the building was a good deal altered and possibly the east end forming the present chancel was reconstructed. The masonry consists generally of thin wall stones, but the lower part of the south wall at the east end is of coursed blocks, and the upper part has been rebuilt in brick in comparatively recent times. The east window and one on the south side of the chancel are modern wooden square-headed openings of four and three lights respectively, and there is a square-headed stone window of two trefoiled lights on the north side. At the west end is a late single-light window and the gable above has been repaired in brick. The south doorway has a plain ogee-shaped head hidden by the roof timbers of the porch, but the north doorway, which is built up, has a plain four-centred head.
Internally the walls are plastered and the belfry is carried on posts from the floor at the west end, where a framed partition reduces the length of the nave by 10 ft. Below the middle window on the south side at a distance of 17 ft. from the east wall is a piscina within a later square-headed recess. The projecting part of the bowl has been cut away but the drain remains. The roof is hidden by a curved plaster ceiling, a good deal of alteration having apparently been made in the interior in the 18th century or before. The altar table is apparently of Jacobean date with turned legs and the rail belongs to the same period. It is carved with a flowing pattern and is supported by turned balusters.
The porch may be of 16th-century date, but it is very plain in detail. The sides are open at the top, with short square balusters set diagonally. A dormer window has been inserted in the roof at the west end on the south side. The font and all the fittings are modern.
There are no monuments. (fn. 179)
The turret contains three bells, the oldest dated 1621 and bearing the inscription, 'SANCTA TRINITAS VNVS DEVS MISERERE NOSTRI.' Of the other two bells one is by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester, 1717, inscribed, 'Prosperity to this Church & Place,' and the other is without date or inscription. (fn. 180)
The plate includes a chalice and paten of 1571. (fn. 181)
The church of ST. MATTHIAS, Malvern Link, built in 1846, is of stone in 13th-century style, now consisting of chancel, nave, north aisle, south porch, and tower containing a ring of eight bells by Taylor of Loughborough. The living, a vicarage, was in the gift of the Bishop of Worcester till 1869, since which date Earl Beauchamp has been the patron.
The church of Leigh was divided into three portions or rectories, the portion of the church, the portion of Cherkenhill or Chokenhill, and the portion of Kymenhall, different rectors being presented to the different portions. (fn. 182) The Abbots of Pershore held the advowson of Cherkenhill and Kymenhall (fn. 183) and probably of the other portion also, as all the presentations recorded from 1274 to 1537 are made by them. (fn. 184)
Leigh (the portion of the church) is recorded among the unappropriated rectories in 1535. (fn. 185) The advowson was granted in 1590 with the manor to Edmund Colles (fn. 186) and descended with it until 1899, when it passed from Lady Henry Somerset to Mr. G. T. H. Foster, the present owner.
In 1278 Simon Ravel was presented to a portion, probably Cherkenhill, for in 1286 he had licence to build an oratory at 'Stockenhull' in the soil of his church at a fit distance from the parish church. (fn. 187) The Abbot of Pershore had licence in 1512 to appropriate the portion of Cherkenhill, an annual pension of 6s. 8d. being reserved to the bishop and his successors. (fn. 188) The rectory of Cherkenhill was valued at £14 14s. 4d. at the Dissolution. (fn. 189) In 1554 the rectory and advowson of the vicarage were granted to Thomas Reve and George Cotton, (fn. 190) and in 1571 they were conveyed by Sir John Bourne and Dorothy his wife to Edmund Colles. (fn. 191) The rectory of Cherkenhill remained with the lords of the manor until the beginning of the 19th century, (fn. 192) but in 1620 the Bishop of Worcester certified that there was no such vicarage. (fn. 193) It had probably by that time been united to Leigh, and the church, if any had existed, destroyed.
The portion of Kymenhall is last mentioned in 1374. (fn. 194) It was possibly merged with Cherkenhill before the appropriation of the latter (fn. 195); this would account for the fact that the rectory of Cherkenhill was more valuable than that of Leigh at the Dissolution. About 1646 Leicester Devereux made an agreement with the rector of Leigh, by which the latter took, as a third part of the tithes, all the tithes in Brockamin and all the small tithes in Upper and Lower Howsell, Sandlin and Sherridge, while the lord of the manor took (as two-thirds) all the other tithes in the parish. (fn. 196) An Act of Parliament was passed in 1742–3 confirming this agreement. (fn. 197)
In 1368 Robert Sciccara, rector of Cherkenhill, and Walter of Birtsmorton, rector of Kymenhall, incurred the bishop's censure for neglecting to keep a lamp continually burning at their own expense in the church of Leigh. (fn. 198)
In the 16th century various lands in Leigh were used to maintain a chantry priest in the parish church. (fn. 199) The name of the donor is unknown. The chantry priest was accustomed to teach in the school.
Habington states that Bransford was united to Powick, (fn. 200) which was appropriated in 1314 to the priory of Great Malvern. (fn. 201) Bransford is not mentioned with Powick as pertaining to the priory at the Dissolution. It was apparently annexed to Leigh before the 17th century, when the tithes were paid to Lord Hereford. (fn. 202) The Institution Book of 1689 mentions 'Leigh with the chapel of Bransford.' A rent of 2d. a year, called Layton money, was paid to the rector of Leigh in lieu of a fruit tithe. (fn. 203)
Anselm, Abbot of Pershore (1198–1203) granted licence to his steward Stephen Devereux to have a private chapel in his house at Leigh, to be served three days a week by the chaplain of the mother church of Leigh, an annual pension of 2s. to be paid to the chaplain. He also gave leave for a private chaplain to be maintained there, who should pay to the mother church all offerings taken in the chapel. (fn. 204)
5. Charities of — Baker, John Cother, Leicester Martin, James Martin, Widow Morton and unknown donor, and the parishioners of Leigh charity, consisting of a dwelling-house, formerly the workhouse, and 8 a. of land known as Broad Fields, let at £50 a year, and a rent-charge of 9s. issuing out of Grit Farm, the property of Earl Beauchamp.
7. Charity of Isaac Coles, founded by deed 9 August 1886, trust fund, £49 2s. 6d. consols with the official trustees, producing £1 4s. 4d. yearly. The net income is applicable under the scheme for the general benefit either of the poor of the ancient parish of Leigh, exclusive of the ancient chapelry of Bransford generally, or of such deserving and necessitous persons resident therein as the trustees select for the purpose in one or other of the modes therein mentioned.
In 1906 Mrs. Mary Day, by her will proved at Worcester 23 March, gave £200, the interest to be distributed at Christmas among the old and deserving poor residing within 2 miles of the parish church. The legacy was invested in £210 12s. 10d. Western Australia 3½ per cent. stock, in the names of the rector and churchwardens, producing £7 7s. 4d. yearly. The distribution is made in sums of 5s.
The Leigh Educational Foundation (see under 'Schools'), is endowed with the schoolhouse and teacher's residence, two cottages and land containing 1 a. 2 r. 19 p. in Bransford, producing £11 14s. yearly, and a yearly rent-charge of £10 issuing out of the manor of Leigh.
Bransford.—The Poor's Charity consists of about 4 a. of land known as Whistler's in Lulsley purchased in 1718 with the gifts of John Worfield, John Stoneall, Thomas Crisp and Mrs. Ann Faults recorded on the church table. The land is let at £8 yearly.
Robert Kinnersley by his will (without date) devised 3 r. adjoining the River Teme in St. John in Bedwardine, the rents to be given to the poor on Candlemas and All Saints' days for ever. The land was sold in 1872 and the proceeds invested in £194 17s. 2d. consols with the official trustees, producing £4 17s. 4d. yearly, which is applied for the benefit of poor widows.
Malvern Link.— In 1890 William Masterman Harris, by his will proved at London, bequeathed £50 for the poor, which is represented by £53 3s. 8d. consols with the official trustees, producing £1 6s. 4d. yearly. The income is applied in aid of the sick poor.
The three gifts last mentioned are represented by three several sums of £48 18s. 11d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends of which, amounting together to £3 13s., are applied in pursuance of the trusts of the respective charities for the benefit of the poor of the parish of St. Matthias.