A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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This parish lies between the roads from Tewkesbury and Pershore to Worcester. Branch roads connecting these two pass through Pirton. The ground slopes from north to south, the highest point being 194 ft. at the extreme north, and the lowest about 90 ft. on the southern boundary. The village is a mile south-west of Wadborough station on the Bristol and Birmingham branch of the Midland railway.
The soil is strong clay, the subsoil marl, sandstone and clay; the chief crops grown are wheat and beans. The parish has an area of 1,690 acres, of which 205 are arable land, 700 permanent grass and 252 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The latter are mainly at the southern end of the parish.
The church stands on the top of a hill with the village to the north of it. The rectory is some distance to the west and to the south of it is Pirton Court, formerly the home of the Folliotts, and known as Folliotts Court, now the residence of Viscount Deerhurst. It is a mere fragment of the original structure and was long used as a farm-house, and in consequence has lately been extensively added to and restored. The existing building formed the western wing of the old house and probably adjoined the great hall, though that apartment has entirely gone. The house is apparently of the early 17th century, of two stories, and is of half-timber work except the ground floor of a western annexe, which is in stone. The main west wing contains on the ground floor the drawing room with the study behind it. The former apartment has a massive but clumsy fireplace on the west side with a cornice and a curved pediment, entirely filled with a large scallop shell; at the sides are small panelled pedestals carved with the Tudor rose, &c. The panelling to the dado is old work cut down. The study has a ribbed plaster ceiling, also ornamented with the Tudor rose. A blocked door in the east wall probably communicated with the hall. In the western annexe is the staircase, mostly modern, and the dining room, which has old panelling brought from elsewhere, and a sixlight window with oak mullions. Built into the west wall of the drawing room, externally, is a panelled 15th-century stone. The out-buildings are timberframed with brick filling and the site was moated, but of the moat little remains save on the north and west sides where the ditch closely adjoins the house.
An Inclosure Act was passed in 1762, and the award is dated 20 September 1763. (fn. 2)
Among place-names have been found Bukenhull, Shurnehulle, and Stockyng (fn. 3) (xiv cent.); Suttongate, (fn. 4) Wryghts, Bromptre Hill, Sidelyngdowne, Lonynge, Asteforde, Janynsheyre subtus Perywode, Wallecrofte (fn. 5) (xv cent.); Pinchenes Thomas Meadow (fn. 6) (xvii cent.).
Ten manses at PIRTON were included with the lands said to have been previously granted to the abbey of Pershore by King Coenwulf, which were restored to that abbey by a charter ascribed to King Edgar and dated 972. (fn. 7) By 1086 the abbey had again lost Pirton, which had been granted with the manor of Pershore to the abbey of Westminster by Edward the Confessor. (fn. 8) Pirton was included among the knights' fees held of the abbot's manor of Binholme or Pershore until the 15th century. (fn. 9) It was held in chief by one-sixtieth of a knight's fee and rent in 1588 (fn. 10) and 1618. (fn. 11)
Pirton was held of the abbey of Westminster in 1086 by Walter Ponther, ancestor of the Poer family, who had succeeded Godric here as at Clevelode. There were 6 hides here, and woodland 1 league in length and ½ league in width. (fn. 12) Pirton was subsequently held as two manors, which probably had a separate existence at an early date. Walter Poer's estate at Pirton, afterwards known as Pirton Power or Abbot's Pirton, descended with Battenhall (fn. 13) in the Poer family. William Poer of Pirton occurs in 1175, (fn. 14) and was holding Pirton at the beginning of the 13th century, probably being succeeded by a son Roger. (fn. 15) In 1221 John Poer granted lands here to William son of Robert the Forester, (fn. 16) and may possibly have been identical with John son of Walter, to whom Emma daughter of Robert granted land in the same year. (fn. 17) Isabella daughter of William Poer of Pirton granted to Abbot Roger of Pershore (1234– 50) a rent which her father had given her in free marriage with David de Burton. (fn. 18) In 1274–5 William Poer was presented because he made a warren at Pirton, but he showed his warrant. (fn. 19) A William Poer was probably lord in 1295, when he presented to the church. (fn. 20) He was dead before 20 September 1298, when his widow Margery granted to Maud Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick, all the land in Pirton which she held as dower. (fn. 21) The manor and advowson descended to the daughters and co-heirs of William, Alina and Joan. (fn. 22) Joan's husband John de Huntley, son of Sir Thomas de Huntley, presented to the church in March 1301 as lord of Pirton (fn. 23) and in the following year granted the manor and advowson and the reversion of the lands held by Margery in dower, of his wife's inheritance, to Walter Beauchamp of Alcester and Alice his wife for their lives for the yearly rent of a rose. (fn. 24) Walter died in 1303, (fn. 25) and, though his wife survived, the manor seems to have reverted to John de Huntley, for he leased it and the advowson to Guy Earl of Warwick, Walter's nephew, for a rent, during the life of his wife Joan, of the value of two parts of the manor yearly, (fn. 26) Joan releasing all her right in the same to the earl in 1303–4, (fn. 27) as did Margery in 1307 (fn. 28) and Alina in 1312–13. (fn. 29) Guy Earl of Warwick died seised of the manor in 1315, (fn. 30) and on 1 November of that year, when delivered to his widow, the Countess Alice, in dower, it was valued at £10 1s. 9¼d. (fn. 31) She died in 1324–5, (fn. 32) and the manor and advowson came into the hands of the king by reason of the minority of her son Thomas. (fn. 33) In 1341–2 Thomas Earl of Warwick granted the manor and advowson at a rent of 40d. yearly, as long as she could work, to Margaret de Bulkington for life, for loyal service past and to come rendered by her to his wife, the Countess Catherine, this lease to be void if Margaret placed herself in any other service. (fn. 34) In 1352 the earl received a grant of free warren in 'Piriton Power.' (fn. 35) Before his death in 1369 he granted the manor to feoffees, who on 23 April 1370 gave it to his son Thomas Beauchamp Earl of Warwick. (fn. 36) The latter, before 1376, (fn. 37) granted it to his brother Sir William Beauchamp Lord Bergavenny and his wife Joan. (fn. 38) The manor then descended with Naunton Beauchamp to Anne Countess of Warwick, (fn. 39) her husband presenting to the church in 1466. (fn. 40) She lost her estates on the death of her husband in 1471, and soon afterwards John son of Thomas Hugford, who then represented trustees to whom Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick had granted the manor, claimed it, apparently successfully, against Richard's co-heirs (fn. 41) and granted it in 1482 to the Abbot and convent of Tewkesbury, (fn. 42) presumably in performance of the will of the Earl of Warwick.
It was held under the monastery by lessees, and on 20 July 1535 the abbot leased it to Francis Folliott and John his son, and the heirs male of Francis. (fn. 43) At the Dissolution the monastery was receiving £6 12s. 4d. rents of assize from free and customary tenants, and £5 6s. 8d. farm of the demesne land. (fn. 44) In July 1545 the reversion of the manor leased as above, with the rent of £13 6s. and one pound of cummin reserved on that lease, and the advowson of the rectory were granted in fee to James Gunter and William Lewes, (fn. 45) who immediately sold them to John Folliott, (fn. 46) owner of the manor of Pirton Court, with which Pirton Power has since descended. (fn. 47)
The second manor of Pirton, known as PIRTON COURT, FOLLIOTT'S COURT, or PIRTON FOLLIOTT, was returned in 1588 as being held of the queen as of her manor of Tewkesbury by service of a pair of gloves of the value of a penny, and of an annual rent of a pound of cummin. (fn. 48) In 1618 it was held of the manor of Tewkesbury by service unknown. (fn. 49)
This property may be to some extent identical with land in Pirton granted to William son of Robert Forester in 1221 by John Poer. (fn. 50) Habington quotes a deed without date by which William Beauchamp granted to Ralph de Pirton woods, &c., in Pirton. (fn. 51) Adam de Pirton occurs in 1234, (fn. 52) and John de Pirton was collector of the aid for the county in 1279. (fn. 53) Habington also gives Giles son of William de Pirton in 1298–9 and Adam de Pirton in 1307–8. (fn. 54) In 1327 Master Robert de Pirton contributed to the subsidy. (fn. 55) It seems possible that the property passed from the Pirtons to the next owners, the Greets, in 1340, when William de Salwarpe and Thomas de Pirton, clerks, granted a messuage and 2 carucates of land in Pirton and Severnstoke to Peter de Greet and his wife Agnes and their son Peter, with remainder successively to the younger Peter's heirs, and to his brothers Bernard, John and Nicholas, his sister Agnes, and the right heirs of Peter. (fn. 56) The Greets also acquired of Thomas Lord Berkeley in 1353 an estate at Pirton which Thomas had acquired in 1335 of Thomas son of John de Muneter, (fn. 57) and which in 1346 he was said to be holding as successor to Agnes de Ludlow. (fn. 58) This was settled in 1353 on Peter and Agnes with remainder successively to William Folliott and Catherine his wife, daughter and co-heir of Peter Greet, and the heirs of the said Catherine, to Thomas son of Thomas Folliott, possibly William's brother, and his heirs male and the right heirs of Peter. (fn. 59) The whole of the Greets' estate seems to have passed to William Folliott, who on 8 December 1374 obtained licence to celebrate service in his oratory at Pirton, (fn. 60) from which it may be inferred that he resided here at the manor-house.
The manor then descended with that of Stone in Halfshire Hundred to William Courteen. (fn. 61) Under the Commonweath William Courteen became bankrupt, his Pirton manors being among the properties sold for the benefit of his creditors in 1651. (fn. 62) He must have been able to repurchase them, however, as in 1663 he conveyed them with the advowson to George Lord Coventry, (fn. 63) and the two manors have since followed the descent of Croome D'Abitot. (fn. 64)
Early in the 14th century Richard de Burgh held with Guy Beauchamp and Agnes de Ludlow the half fee in Pirton in which Thomas Lyttelton was coparcener with Thomas Beauchamp and Thomas de Berkeley in 1346, and was probably, therefore, the predecessor of Thomas Lyttelton. (fn. 65) This estate seems to have remained in the family of Lyttelton of Frankley until the 16th century. Sir Thomas Lyttelton died seised of lands in Pirton on 23 August 1481, and was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 66) whose son John was holding a toft in Pirton in 1535. (fn. 67) He sold all his land at Pirton to Francis Folliott in July 1544. (fn. 68)
A windmill was held with the manor of Pirton Power in 1315, (fn. 69) when it was worth 6s. yearly, and in 1324–5, (fn. 70) when it was worth 3s. 4d. yearly. In 1327 it was recorded that there was no rent from the mill. (fn. 71) Pirton windmill was sold with the manor to the Courteens in 1623. (fn. 72) The great fish-pond in the 'heathland' is mentioned in 1315 (fn. 73) and 1324, (fn. 74) and as 'Le graunt viver' en le wast' was granted to Margaret de Bulkington with the manor in 1341–2. (fn. 75) The fish-pond yielded a rent of 6s. 8d. in 1315 (fn. 76) and in 1481. (fn. 77) The great pond still exists as Pirton Pool and covers 26 acres, though it was formerly 50 acres in extent (fn. 78); around it are some fine cedars.
The church of ST. PETER (fn. 79) consists of a chancel 24 ft. by 17 ft., nave 52 ft. 6 in. by 19 ft. 9 in. and a timber tower north of the nave. All the measurements are internal.
The side walls of the nave date from the early 12th century, when the church had a central tower, of which the present chancel arch formed the eastern support. The church remained unaltered till the early 14th century, when the chancel and the west end appear to have been rebuilt. In the 15th century a window was inserted in the south wall of the nave and early in the succeeding century the central tower was probably taken down. This alteration involved the removal of the western arch and the construction of a passage in the wall from the former tower stair to the new rood loft, which must have stood against the eastern arch. The timber tower was then erected, and not long after the brick mullions and tracery appear to have been added in the side windows of the chancel. The church has been restored in modern times and the west wall entirely rebuilt slightly within the old lines.
The chancel has a pointed east window of the early 14th century of three lights with net tracery in the head. In the north wall is a window of similar date with a brick mullion and a circle in the head probably inserted in the late 16th or early 17th century. The south wall contains a similar window and further west a singlelight opening with a trefoiled head. The piscina has a cinquefoiled head and two basins, the one behind the other, the front bowl being broken. The chancel arch of about 1130 (formerly the eastern tower arch) is semicircular and recessed in two plain orders on the west face with a label chamfered on the underside and having a creature like a frog carved on the central voussoir. The outer order of the jambs has an attached shaft with scalloped capital and chamfered abacus continued round. The chancel roof has queen post trusses with heavy tie-beams and is ceiled in an arch extending up to the collar.
The space formerly under the central tower has walls of great thickness, that on the north pierced with a 12th-century window deeply splayed and having a roughly stepped sill; the head is original, but the external jambs have been widened. In the south wall is a two-light early 16th-century window, and east of it is a plain square-headed door of similar date, formerly opening on to the rood loft. It communicates by a passage carried along the top of the wall under the roof with the former tower vice, which is of unusual size and set in the southern abutment of the former west arch. The latter has been entirely removed with the exception of the base of the northern respond, which remains at the floor level. It is recessed in three orders on the west and two on the east, the two outer on the west having had attached shafts with moulded bases and small spur ornaments of mid-12th-century date. The roof of this part of the nave is of wagon form ceiled on the soffit and having an embattled wall-plate.
The original nave has a single 12th-century roundheaded window and a north door with a roundheaded rear arch, both now opening into the tower; the door on this side has a square head and an oak lintel. The door itself is of oak and apparently retains the original hinges, and above it is a small sundial fixed inside. In the south wall is a squareheaded 15th-century window of two lights and further west the south doorway, originally of the 12th century but much restored. It is of three orders set in a square-headed projection, but only one spring of the outer order of the arch and the bases and capitals of the side shafts appear to be original; the abaci are enriched with cheveron ornament. The door is mainly old and has 12th-century iron work. In the west wall is a modern three-light window. The nave roof is open to the ridge and has plain tiebeams, all the rafters being principals.
The timber tower is built against the north nave wall near its western end. The ground stage forms three bays, the side ones being covered by pent roofs resting against the framing of the central portion, which rises one stage higher and is covered with a modern pyramidal roof. The framing of the ground stage has diagonal braces on each face and a squareheaded door on the north. The bell-chamber has a small light with a rounded head in each face and the tower is finished externally in black and white work.
The monuments include a slab on the south chancel wall to Elizabeth wife of William Sole, rector, who died in 1664, and floor slabs in the nave to Rebecca Holdman and Judith Jarret, 1656 and 1660, and to Anne Meadowes, who died in 1640.
The pulpit is Jacobean and of octagonal form with arched panels in each face and a band of carved work above; the other fittings include a late 17th or early 18th-century communion table and rails with turned balusters, a parish chest inscribed 'M.P. 1674,' and several massive oak benches.
The font is of doubtful date, having a shallow round bowl, an octagonal stem and a square base. Round the font are several old slip tiles bearing the Berkeley arms and one with a shield of Valence quartered with Hastings for Hastings Earl of Pembroke.
The advowson has always been held with the manor of Pirton alias Abbot's Pirton. The rectory was united with the curacy of Croome D'Abitot in 1771. (fn. 80)
In 1818 Mrs. Susannah Tovey by her will bequeathed £50, the interest to be distributed among the most deserving poor. The legacy, less duty, is now represented by £45 in the Post Office Savings Bank, producing £1 2s. 6d. yearly, which is distributed in small sums to poor women.