A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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This parish is on the border of Warwickshire, which bounds it on the south and east. The road from Bromsgrove to Henley in Arden runs west to east across the south of the parish, meeting the road from Birmingham to Alcester (here called Portway), which runs through the parish near its eastern boundary. The Icknicld Street runs from north to south through Beoley, to the west of the Birmingham Road, and forms the western boundary of Beoley Park.
Beoley has an area of 4,694 acres of land and 22 of water, of which, in 1905, 700 acres were arable land, 3,516 permanent grass and 110 woodland. (fn. 1) The soil is chiefly marl, and the subsoil marl, clay and sandstone. The principal crops grown are wheat, beans, peas, oats and occasionally barley.
The parish lies high, the village being about 400 ft. above the ordnance datum. To the north and south the land rises to over 500 ft. Its western boundary is formed by a stream which flows south into the River Arrow. On this river at the south-west of Beoley are the mills of Messrs. Parr & Son and Messrs. Smith Bros., the centres of important local industries, the making of pins and needles and needle paper.
Habington wrote of Beoley: 'Cominge to the mannors which weare purchased by the Earles of Warwicke, Boeley presenteth itself as the fyrst and worthyest, a Lordshyp in former ages fortifyed with a Castell, the Churche mounted on a hyll in the myddest of a large parcke replenyshed with deere, inryched and grand with timber and woodes, and lastly the mannor attended with tenants wanting nothinge concurringe to greatenes.' (fn. 2)
The main settlement in the parish is at Holt End, where there is little of architectural interest, the cottages being mainly of brick. The church stands on rising ground about half a mile to the west of Holt End, with the domain of Beoley Hall adjoining the churchyard on the north, the vicarage on the south-west, and on the south-east the house known as St. Leonard's Cottage, which faces upon the Bromsgrove Road.
Near Church Hill Farm, to the south of the vicarage, is the Mount, the remains of an earthwork, described in 1826 by Mr. Peter Cormouls as the dry fosse of a castle considerably grown over with trees. (fn. 3) The castle had already disappeared in Habington's time. Of Moon's Moat at Batten's Farm (fn. 4) Cormouls wrote: it ' is now grown over with trees; a stone wall of good workmanship was taken away from the inner ridge some years ago.' His description of Beoley at this date (fn. 5) suggests that confusion and neglect must then have been reigning there. After enlarging on the beauty of the two Sheldon monuments which divide the Sheldon chapel from the chancel of the church, he added that ' the building is most profusely covered with ivy, which from its too luxuriant growth, though it might add to the gloom of a burial place, makes it much too dark for a school, the purpose to which it is now applied, and which is made habitable in the winter by a stove in the centre and skreens filling up the arches of the monuments.' (fn. 6) A wake was then held on the Sunday following old St. Bartholomew's Day.
Beoley Hall (fn. 7) is a large H-shaped house three stories in height; it is built of brick with slate roofs, and is entirely coated with cement on the outside. The former home of the Sheldons is locally said to have been destroyed during the Civil War of the 17th century, and the present house was erected some time after the Restoration, either on the same site or a little to the west of it. The east front has a Doric portico, some of the columns of which have been repaired with cement, and above the centre of the front elevation is an urn from which a wreath falls on either side; the urn had originally a ball finial which was destroyed by lightning some time since. Above the entrance doorway and on the walls is some faience work with figures in low relief. The hall, entered from the portico, which communicates with the other rooms, contains a modern staircase, and the interior generally has been much modernized, but still retains some original oak beams. The coating of cement on the external walls is now being entirely removed.
Where the Birmingham Road is crossed by the Bromsgrove Road is a district called Branson's Cross. In the church accounts for 1655 there is an entry that 4s. was then paid for a dial, and 6d. 'for hewing the Top of the Crose for to sett a dyall on.' (fn. 8) The pound is to the north of the village.
Among place-names have been found: Ippesforde, the Ladi Redingge, the Lamberheye, Athelerescroft, Stambernesse (fn. 9) (xiv cent.); The Church Hill, White Pitts, Ten Mile Brook, (fn. 10) Church House, Madely Green, Hobhill Green, Lilly Green, Mapleborough Green, New Cross Green, Bamford Meadow, Skilts Moore, Dagnellend, Dippa Dawn or Dipper Downes, Storiage Hill, Blacklands, Aldwells Meadow, The Sling, Penns Hill, Mare's Hill, Lodgehill, Walkmillhill, Marlefield, Tisoes Close, Glovers' Meadow (fn. 11) (xvii cent.).
BEOLEY formed part of the earliest endowments of the abbey of Pershore, and five 'manses' there were among the property said to have been restored to the monks by King Edgar in 972. (fn. 12) At the date of the Domesday Survey this abbey was holding the great manor of Beoley, with one appurtenant member, Yardley, 21 hides inter planum et silvam. (fn. 13) The overlordship of the abbey was recognized until 1439, (fn. 14) but in 1446 it was not known of whom the manor was held. (fn. 15)
No under-tenant is mentioned in 1086, but in the next century William Bcauchamp held these 21 hides under the church of Pershore, (fn. 16) and his descendants apparently continued as mesne-lords (fn. 17) until they acquired the manor in fee about 1265. (fn. 18)
Under the Beauchamps Beoley was held by the same owners as its member Yardley (q.v.), their descent being identical until the death of Henry Duke of Warwick, in 1446. (fn. 19) The manor then seems to have passed with Wadborough and Stoulton (fn. 20) to Elizabeth Lady Latimer, half-sister of Henry Duke of Warwick, for she died seised of it in 1480. (fn. 21) In spite of this Beoley was included among the manors belonging to the earldom of Warwick given by Anne Countess of Warwick to Henry VII in 1487, (fn. 22) and assured to Henry VIII by Act of Parliament in 1536. (fn. 23) The Nevills however, certainly held the manor, which passed from Elizabeth Lady Latimer to her grandson Richard Nevill, and followed the descent of Stoulton (fn. 24) until 1549, when John Nevill, Lord Latimer, sold it to William Sheldon. (fn. 25)
William Sheldon had acquired in 1544 land in Beoley which had belonged to Alcester Monastery, (fn. 26) and he further added to the family estates by marrying as his first wife Mary, eldest daughter and co-heir of William Willington of Barcheston (co. Warwick). Habington wrote of him that he 'in our age for wysdome, estate, and authority in our county equalled most of the gentellmen of England.' (fn. 27) He is said to have been the introducer of tapestry weaving into England, bringing over at his own expense workmen from Flanders to his Barcheston estate, where they began by weaving maps of England in tapestry. (fn. 28) He made a settlement of the manor at the marriage of his son Ralph with Anne one of the daughters of Sir Robert Throckmorton, on 16 May 1557, and died at Skilts Studley (co. Warwick), on 24 December 1570. (fn. 29) He was buried three weeks later with great pomp at Beoley, where a splendid monument was erected to him later by his son and heir Ralph. In the library of the College of Arms is preserved his illuminated funeral certificate. He was succeeded by his son Ralph, who adorned the handsome Sheldon chapel, and filled it with monuments and effigies of his ancestors. He settled the manor on his son Edward, his brother William, and the heirs of his father William, in tail male successively, in 1575. (fn. 30) In 1580 he was committed to the Marshalsea prison as a recusant, but was removed at the petition of his wife to the house of the Dean of Westminster for surgical treatment, he being afflicted with a disease to the 'perill of his liefe.' Early in the following year he promised 'to yielde himself dutifull and obedient unto Her Majesty and in token thereof to be contented to repair unto the churche,' (fn. 31) but the benefit of his recusancy was granted to David Drummond as late as 4 March 1610. (fn. 32) His son Edward, who succeeded him in 1613, (fn. 33) married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Markham of Ollerton, 'Black Markham,' and died in 1643, when he was followed by his son William. (fn. 34)
William Sheldon, who pleaded His Majesty's letters of grace in bar of the laws against recusants in 1639, (fn. 35) married Elizabeth, daughter of William, second Lord Petre, and Lord Petre was holding the manor, evidently for the purposes of a settlement, in 1648. (fn. 36) As a Royalist, William Sheldon suffered heavily. His house at Beoley is said to have been burnt down to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Parliamentarians, and his estates were included among those of delinquents not permitted to compound from which £50,000 was raised for the relief of Ireland in 1648. (fn. 37) In the course of numerous petitions dealing with Beoley, which was sequestered, he protested that he was never in arms, never acted for the king's party except when forced, but was sequestered on sinister information. (fn. 38) In 1650 the manor was conveyed by the Treason Trustees to John Wildman and George Day, (fn. 39) who were holding it with William Sheldon and his sons Ralph and George in 1653, (fn. 40) in which year the manor was discharged from sequestration. (fn. 41) It seems then to have remained in the possession of George Day until the Restoration. William Sheldon died in 1659, (fn. 42) and in 1660 George Day and Anne his wife conveyed Beoley to Richard Sheldon, (fn. 43) presumably in process of restoring it to William's son and successor Ralph Sheldon. Of Ralph Sheldon, Nash wrote that he was of 'such remarkable integrity, charity, and hospitality as gained him the universal esteem of all the gentlemen of the county, insomuch that he usually went by the name of the Great Sheldon.' (fn. 44) A learned antiquary, he was also a munificent patron of learned men. He purchased and bequeathed to the College of Arms the manuscripts of Augustine Vincent, Windsor Herald. His own principal achievement was a 'Catalogue of the Nobility of England since the Norman Conquest according to their severall Creations by every Particular King,' with the arms finely emblazoned. (fn. 45) As a reward for his devotion to the Royalist cause he was nominated a member of the contemplated order of the Royal Oak. He received licence to travel abroad for his health with six servants in 1667, (fn. 46) and died in 1684. (fn. 47) Being childless, and his brother Edward, a Benedictine monk at Douay, having refused to deal with secular matters, he bequeathed his property to his next heir male, Ralph Sheldon of Steeple Barton, co. Oxon., (fn. 48) who made a conveyance of the manor in 1708. (fn. 49) Ralph Sheldon died in 1720, (fn. 50) and was succeeded by his son Edward, at whose death in 1736 (fn. 51) Beoley passed to his son William. William was dealing with the manor in the same year, (fn. 52) and in 1770, with his son and heir Ralph, barred the entail made at his marriage. (fn. 53) William Sheldon was succeeded in 1780 by his son Ralph, (fn. 54) who in 1788 sold the manor, then heavily mortgaged, to Thomas Holmes (fn. 55); Charles Sheldon, one of the six younger sons of William Sheldon, in the same year released the manor from payment of an annuity due to himself. (fn. 56) According to Noake, Thomas Holmes sold the house and estate in lots at the end of the 18th century to various purchasers, but died intestate before the conveyance of the properties was completed, when much confusion resulted. (fn. 57) Mr. J. H. Whitehouse had purchased the mansion and about 300 acres of land, and some working colliers named Stanton claimed the manor. (fn. 58) In 1854 Miss Holmes was lady of the manor; in 1860 Mlle. de Bosse. The lords of the manor in 1861 (fn. 59) and 1864 were William and Arthur Hornby. The manor had again changed hands by 1868, when it was held by Mr. Robert Mole, (fn. 60) who was succeeded before 1876 by Mrs. Mole. She was still holding it in 1880, but before 1888 it was bought by Richard Hemming's trustees, and came from them to his daughter Mrs. Ingram. At her death it passed to her sister Mrs. Cheape of Bentley Manor, who is the present owner. (fn. 61)
In 1244 Robert son of Ralph Fitz Nicholas obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands of Beoley. (fn. 64) Shortly after, Robert seems to have inclosed a park there, for in 1248–9 he obtained the Bishop of Worcester's agreement to the inclosure. (fn. 65) William de la Wode complained in 1254–5 that Robert Fitz Ralph had disseised him of his common in 12 acres in Beoley which Robert had assarted and cultivated. (fn. 66) The park was stocked with deer before 1304 when Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, complained that it had been broken into while he was on the king's service in Scotland. (fn. 67) Similar complaints were made by him in 1310, (fn. 68) and by his son John in 1316. (fn. 69) In this year the Old and New Parks are mentioned, the latter containing a fishery and cony warren. (fn. 70) In 1322 William la Zouche of Ashby (whom Alice, the widow of Guy Beauchamp Earl of Warwick, had married as her third husband), (fn. 71) complained of poaching in his parks and fish stews. (fn. 72) The park subsequently followed the descent of the manor, (fn. 73) and in the sale in 1650 by the Treason Trustees, the Lodge Park (430 acres) and the Red Deer Park (231 acres) were included. (fn. 74) In 1788 Beoley Park, then described as disparked, and the Red Deer Park, were conveyed with the manor to Thomas Holmes. (fn. 75) Prattinton wrote in 1826, his authority being Mr. Peter Cormouls, that the modern park was only 65 a. 3 r. 5 p., and that the ancient demesne lands were 1,545 a. 3r. 25 p. (fn. 76) Nash, writing in 1781, states that the demesne lands had usually been considered half the parish in value. (fn. 77)
Lands and mills in Beoley were granted by Guy Beauchamp (ob. 1315) to Walter de Ellesworthe in a deed without date. (fn. 78) In 1650 there were held with the manor three water corn-mills under one roof called Beoley Mill, a paper-mill in the occupation of Nicholas Clows, and another paper-mill called Seales Mill. (fn. 79)
The church of ST. LEONARD consists of a chancel 26 ft. 8 in. by about 12 ft. 3 in., the Sheldon chapel, north of the chancel, 23 ft. 11 in. by 20 ft., nave 44 ft. 5 in. by 19 ft., north aisle 45 ft. by 8 ft. 9 in., south aisle 44 ft. 5 in. by 6 ft. 3 in., west tower 12 ft. 5 in. by 12 ft. 6 in., and south porch. All these dimensions are internal.
The nave and the western half of the chancel were built during the early part of the 12th century, the chancel being extended to its present length and the south aisle added about 100 years later. It appears also that during the early part of the 13th century a chapel was built comprising the eastern bay of the present north aisle, which about 1300 was extended westward, and the north arcade opened out, the junction of the walling of the two periods being at the break in the wall line at the central buttress. The west tower was built c. 1400, when all the existing windows and doorways in the church were renewed in the manner of the period, and the south arcade seems to have been rebuilt at the same time with the old materials and somewhat altered. The Sheldon chapel was added about 1580 by Ralph Sheldon, when the stone altar placed against the east wall was said to have been given to him by Gregory XIII. (fn. 80) In 1885 the church was restored, an old south porch being taken down and the present timber one erected, while the Sheldon chapel was repaired in 1891 and its north wall practically rebuilt.
The church is built of faced sandstone rubble and the tower of sandstone ashlar, and internally all the walls are faced except those of the chancel and chapel, which are plastered. The roof of the north aisle has some old trusses with modern match-boarding inside and is covered with lead externally; all the other roofs are tiled and have modern open timber trusses.
The chancel, which stands five steps above the nave, is unusually narrow for its length, and before the 13th-century extension must have been particularly small; a break in the wall line on the south side shows the junction of the work of the two periods. Externally the walls have been refaced and the diagonal buttresses at the east are modern. There is a modern three-light east window, and in the south wall are two windows and a modern piscina recess. The eastern window is of three trefoiled lights and the other of two trefoiled lights; both have square heads and date from about 1400, but the head and tracery of the larger window have been renewed. The north wall is pierced by two round arches containing the elaborate Renaissance tombs of William Sheldon, who died in 1570, and Ralph Sheldon, the founder of the chapel into which the arches open, who died in 1613. The chancel arch, the only remaining detail of the 12th-century church, is semicircular, and has plain square edges to both arch and jambs, broken only at the springing by simple quirked and splayed abaci, which are returned for short distances on the chancel and nave sides. The gable above the arch has been rebuilt and is pierced by a modern round-headed twolight opening.
The Sheldon chapel, which contains many tombs and mural monuments of the Sheldons, has a large five-light window with tracery under a semicircular head in the east wall, two repaired three-light windows with square heads on the north, the elaborate tombs already mentioned on the south, and a square-headed moulded doorway from the north aisle on the west. The east window, which is of Gothic character with Renaissance detail, is an interesting example of late 16thcentury work. Below the north windows are three round-arched recesses, with moulded edges and abaci at the springing; the two eastern recesses contain tombs and the other a modern doorway. Against the wall under the east window is the stone altar of the late 16th century above referred to. This consists of a black marble slab, supported by an outer range of five columns, within which is an oblong bracket, with a deep ovolo moulding carved with arabesque ornament and itself resting on smaller columns and pilasters. The whole stands on a moulded pedestal. It is probable that the altar slab itself, with the canonical five consecration crosses, was portable, and placed upon this when required, there being no crosses on the present top slab. On the west wall are three iron brackets for banners.
The nave is of three bays, and is without clearstory. On the north is an arcade of pointed arches of two chamfered orders, supported by quatrefoil piers with moulded bases and richly moulded capitals, differing in detail; above the arches are chamfered labels, which meet over the piers in head stops, the western one of which is defaced; the east respond has been re stored, and the western respond, including the lower part of the capital, has been cut away. The early 13th-century arches on the south are similar in design to those on the north, but that the labels are of an earlier character and have a single splayed edge. The piers and responds differ greatly in design, and show evidence of having been considerably altered at a subsequent period, probably at the general restoration carried out about 1400; the eastern pier is circular with a moulded base and capital, and is reinforced on the west by two shafts with annulets at the centre of their height; the main pier with its square base is evidently original, but the bases of the small shafts are doubtless of a subsequent period. The other pier is octagonal with a moulded capital and base, the latter of which seems to have undergone subsequent treatment, while both the responds are probably original, though the west capital is of a somewhat coarse character. The purpose of the shafts on the first pier is obscure, though it is probably constructional, the pier being considered insufficiently substantial. At the west end of the nave is the lofty pointed tower arch of two orders, the inner supported at either respond by a large filleted roll with capital and base.
The north aisle, which is on a level with the nave and six steps below the Sheldon chapel, has two early 15th-century three-light windows in the north wall and a four-centred doorway of the same date between them; the eastern window has a square head and the other, which is rather more delicately moulded, a four-centred head. The doorway has a double ogee edge moulding and the spandrels are embellished with sculptured animals. Above it is a large niche with a crocketed canopy, very large head stops and a carved pedestal. The eastern part of the north wall is some 3 in. thicker than the walling to the west of the central buttress, and is probably of earlier date; the buttress is of about 1300. The two buttresses at the western angle are modern.
The south aisle is particularly narrow; it has a modern two-light east window and three windows in the south wall with a four-centred doorway between the two westernmost. The easternmost window is of three cinquefoiled lights with early 15th-century jambs and a modern head and tracery, and above it is a modern three-light wooden dormer. The other two windows are of the early 15th century, and both have two cinquefoiled lights under square heads with modern tracery. The doorway, also of the early 15th century, has a double ogee edge moulding, somewhat defaced. At the south-west corner are two short and deep 13th-century buttresses, but, with the exception of the west wall and the west end of the south wall, the whole aisle was apparently rebuilt early in the 15th century. Built into the south wall near the buttress at this corner is a stone measuring 2 ft. 3 in. by 1 ft. 3½ in., carved in low relief with a figure of a bishop or an abbot represented in the act of blessing. The relief, which probably dates from the 12th century, is much weatherworn and the features are defaced, but the figure is evidently robed in mass vestments and has a mitre and staff. The aisle has a modern plain parapet.
The tower is of three stages divided by string-courses and has diagonal western buttresses and straight eastern buttresses, all rising with offsets to the full height of the tower and terminating in small pinnacles at the corners of an embattled parapet. The west doorway has a four-centred head of two moulded orders and a crocketed label with a finial and grotesque head stops, much weatherworn. Above is a wide window of four cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery under a pointed head, also with a crocketed label and grotesque stops. On the southern external face of the second stage is a canopied niche, and on the south and west are openings with crocketed labels; the bell-chamber has on each side a window of two cinquefoiled lights with quatrefoil head tracery.
The font is circular, cut out of a light sandstone, and dates from the early part of the 13th century. The surface of its bowl is relieved by four female heads with hair plaited in two strands which meet and overlap between the heads. The circular shaft has a moulded base standing on an octagonal pedestal which is now flush with the floor level. The stone pulpit is modern. The carved altar table probably dates from the 17th century, and in the tower is a small square oak table of the same period. In the chapel is an oak bench, and a 17th-century oak chest inscribed 'I.W. C.W. 1683.' In the head of the easternmost window of the north aisle are some fragments of early 15th-century painted glass. The door to the turret stairway is original but has been repaired.
The principal monuments in the Sheldon chapel were placed there by Ralph Sheldon to the memory of his father and immediate ancestors. Of the two table tombs, both of similar design, in the eastern bays of the wall arcade on the north side, the easternmost is to William Sheldon, son of John Sheldon of Rowley in Staffordshire, who died in 1517. The inscription is much decayed by the damp which percolates through the wall and is destroying the monuments on this side of the chapel. The tomb was placed here by Ralph Sheldon in 1600. The adjoining monument is to Ralph Sheldon, brother and heir of this William Sheldon, who died in 1546, and was placed here by Ralph Sheldon in 1601. On the south side of the chapel under the semicircular arches pierced in the north wall of the chancel are the two most elaborate of the tombs, those of William Sheldon who died in 1570, and of Ralph, his son, the founder of the chapel, who died in 1613. Both are of the same type and probably of Italian workmanship, the ornament showing a curious blending of foreign and native influence. Each arch is flanked by detached Corinthian columns, elevated upon pedestals and supporting an entablature, and upon the spandrels are carved boys with trumpets and skulls, while behind the columns are arabesque panels. The tombs themselves are of sarcophagus form, very delicately wrought, and upon each are the recumbent effigies of a man and a woman, the man in the armour of the period. The inscriptions, which are in Latin, are inscribed upon tablets on the east and west walls of the chapel adjoining their respective tombs. Above the arch of the eastern tomb, on both north and south sides, are inscribed Latin verses in the approved monumental style of the period, while on the west jamb of the arch is a set of elegiac verses entitled:— 'De Gulielmo Sheldon Richardus Eedes decanus Vigorn,' and upon the east jamb, three hexameters (now illegible) entitled 'Guil: Pater Radulpho filio.' These latter, to judge from the transcription given by Nash, are in the punning style of Dr. Eedes and probably also from his pen. Above the monument on both faces are large shields of Sheldon quartering Ruding, Heath and Grove, brought in by the grandmother of William Sheldon, the heiress of Ruding and his mother Philippa Heath, daughter and co-heir of Baldwin Heath of Ford Hall, Wootton Wawen, Warwickshire. Upon the keystone of each face of the arch is the shield of his wife, Mary Willington, daughter and co-heir of William Willington of Barcheston in Warwickshire. On the south side of the tomb itself are shields of Sheldon and Willington, Sheldon impaling Throckmorton and the same impaling Leveson, the two latter shields showing the alliances of his eldest son Ralph and his second son William. Upon the north side of the tomb are shields of Savage, Pollard, Brayne and Plowden, each impaling Sheldon, commemorating the alliances of his four daughters. Above the western monument, that of Ralph Sheldon, the eldest son and heir of the above William Sheldon, is a shield with six quarters of Sheldon, Ruding, Heath, Grove and Willington, for his mother, Mary Willington, all impaling the arms of his wife, Anne Throckmorton, daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton, Warwickshire. On the north side of the tomb is a shield of Sheldon impaling Markham, showing the alliance of his eldest son Edward with Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Markham of Cotham and Ollerton in the county of Nottingham; the remaining shields on this and the south side are Russell, Fowler, Clare, Flower, Standen, Peshall, Trentham, Meyney and Sulliard, all impaling Sheldon and showing the alliances of his nine daughters.
On the south wall of the chancel is a monument to Edward Sheldon, eldest son and heir of the foregoing Ralph Sheldon, who died in 1643, and in the floor of the chapel is a brass plate to Frances Sheldon, his daughter, who died in 1631 unmarried. The inscription states that the plate was placed there by her brother, William Sheldon. This William, the eldest son of Edward Sheldon, is commemorated by a monument, now placed to the south of the chancel arch, on the nave face of the wall. The inscription states that he married Elizabeth daughter of Lord Petre, and died in his 70th year (the date of his death is given by Nash as 1659). Below the Latin portion of the inscription are inscribed the following verses:—
'Here entomb (fn. 81) a Sheldon lyes Whom not envyes selfe denyes Nor suspicion ere could doubt Verteous, loyall, wise, devout Hee in these oreturning times Owed his standing to noe crimes; Some by others falles are knowne High to rise, hee by his owne.' On the north wall of the chapel, above the wall arcade, is the monument of his wife Elizabeth, who died in 1656. At the south-east of the chancel is a mural monument to Elizabeth daughter of Peter Dormer, who died in 1613. The monument, upon which it is stated that she married, first, Edward Morgan, secondly, John Alderford of Salford, was erected by Sir Simon Clark, her grandson, in 1640.
There is a ring of six bells, inscribed as follows: treble, 'Radolphus Sheldon de Beoley Armiger. I. Whateley I. Ford Ch. W. 1708'; (2) 'Ed. Sheldon Esquier 1622 R. Sheldon N. Carlton W. Frances,' with the initials H. O. (for Henry Oldfield of Nottingham) on the waist; (3) 'James Powell John Whatly James Ford Ch. Wd. 1709. R. S.,' cast by Richard Sanders of Bromsgrove; (4) 'Be yt knowne to all that doth we see that Newcombe of Leicester made mee 1611'; (5) 'Will (fn. 82) Pitts & Tho (fn. 83) Winterton Churchwardens 1789 Jn° Rudhall Fec (fn. 84).'; tenor, 'Rafe Sheldon Esquier William Harper Nicholas Darlton 1601 R.A. E.H.' The letters used in the last inscription are fine Gothic capitals, evidently 15thcentury stamps formerly used by the Brasyers of Norwich, and here by Watts of Leicester.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1538 to 1652; (ii) all entries 1652 to 1720; (iii) baptisms and burials 1720 to 1812, marriages to 1754; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1795; (v) marriages 1796 to 1812.
In the churchyard, south of the nave, is the square base of a mediaeval churchyard cross, mounted on three square steps. The base, which has a sunk quatrefoil on each face, hollow-chamfered corners, and an upper moulding of octagonal plan, probably dates from about 1400. The steps have become disjointed, and fallen much out of place. In the socket is a short broken shaft of very much later date, probably a 17th-century sundial support.
The abbey of Alcester, which was founded in 1140 by Ralph Boteler, received a grant of this church from Geoffrey de Limesi and his mother Hawise, and it was confirmed to them by Henry II. (fn. 85) The advowson was retained by the abbey, which in 1465 was united to the abbey of Evesham, (fn. 86) until the Dissolution. (fn. 87) Though not mentioned in the grant to William Sheldon of the other estates of Alcester Priory at Beoley, it was evidently included, for William was holding the advowson at his death in 1570. (fn. 88) It afterwards followed the descent of the manor in the Sheldon family, though presentations were frequently made by others, (fn. 89) probably on account of the religious belief of the Sheldons. The advowson was sold by Ralph Sheldon in 1788 to Thomas Holmes. (fn. 90) It passed with the manor (fn. 91) to Captain Mole, whose trustees held it until about 1905, (fn. 92) when it became the property of Mrs. Ingram. Her sister, Mrs. Cheape, is the present patron. (fn. 93)
Noake states that the manor of Beoley was formerly charged with £40 a year to support a 'mass house' or residence for a priest. This was still paid when he wrote (1868) to the priest of the Roman Catholic chapel at Redditch, the chapel at Beoley having then disappeared. (fn. 94) A messuage called the Church House was included in the sale of the manor in 1650. (fn. 95)
It appears from a tablet in the church that Mrs. H. Holmes Hunter gave £100 for the benefit of the poor, which was paid by her daughter in 1847. The principal sum, together with two small sums given by Mr. Woollaston and Miss Woollaston, was invested in £143 11s. 3d. consols held by the official trustees. The annual dividends, amounting to £3 11s. 8d., are distributed in doles of money.