A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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UPTON UPON SEVERN
Upton is a large parish lying chiefly on the right bank of the Severn, having an area of 3,211 acres, of which 691 acres are arable land and 1,824 permanent grass. (fn. 1) The parish lies on Keuper Marl with alluvium near the river. The chief crops are wheat, barley and beans, with hay in the Severn meadows. There are a great many orchards. In 1868 Messrs. Kent & Sons had spirit, cider and vinegar works here; a considerable amount of market gardening is carried on. (fn. 2) The high road from Ledbury passes through the parish, joining the Gloucester Road near Newbridge Green. The Ashchurch, Tewkesbury and Malvern branch of the Midland railway has a station at the south end of the town, near which the river is crossed by a viaduct.
The districts known as the Upper and Lower Ham, stretching along the river bank for some distance south-west of the railway, are low and liable to floods. The land rises gradually to the west, and on Hook Common a height of 137 ft. above the ordnance datum is reached. There is a slight elevation at Tunnel Hill, on the Ledbury Road. A little to the north-west of the town is Tiltridge Farm, near Pool Brook. The property has recently been purchased by the Worcestershire County Council for small holdings. There was formerly a large house here, standing in a beautiful situation, but it fell into decay and has now disappeared. (fn. 3)
The church of the Good Shepherd at Hook Common was built in 1870. There are also St. Joseph's Roman Catholic chapel in Buryfield, built in 1850, a Baptist chapel in Old Street, founded in 1693, and a Wesleyan chapel in New Street, built in 1891. The cemetery, adjoining the parish church, was opened in 1866 and enlarged in 1889. A town hall and marketplace were provided by Act of Parliament, 1832. (fn. 4) Ham Court, the property of Mr. E. G. B. Martin, lord of the manor, is situated at the extreme south of the parish, near the Lower Ham. It was built in 1797 and has been for some generations the seat of the lords of Upton. There is an ancient cross in the grounds.
The town lies low on the bank of the Severn. It was once a thriving borough with fairs and a market. The cause of the town's importance was perhaps its position at the junction of several main roads. It also had a harbour for barges on the Severn. No record of any charter has been found, but it is frequently described as a borough in the 15th century, (fn. 5) the parish being divided into borough and foreign. The weekly market and the fair, said to have been held by charter, (fn. 6) on the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula (1 August) are also mentioned as early as 1416, (fn. 7) the profits from them belonging to the owners of the manor. It is not called a borough after the 15th century, but it still had a market on Thursday and a fair on St. Peter's Day in the 17th century. (fn. 8) In 1792 there were five annual fairs: on the first Thursday after Mid-Lent, Thursday in Whit Week, 10 July, the Thursday before the feast of St. Matthew and 21 September. (fn. 9) In 1832 it was found that the market had been held on Thursday from time immemorial. (fn. 10) In 1888 there were four annual fairs, the September one being then obsolete, but no market. (fn. 11) There is now a market on Thursday, but no fair.
Upton is thus described by Leland: 'Upton stands in ripa dextra Sabrinae on a cluster 4 miles above Theokesbyri, and here is a bridge of wood on Sabrine, and a grete stable of the king's, a late occupied for grete horses.' (fn. 12) The office of keeper of the stables was granted in 1519 to Baldwin Heath. (fn. 13) The stables were probably pulled down in the reign of Charles I, and others built, for a building of that date known as 'The King's Stables' still stands by the water-side. (fn. 14) There was formerly a wooden bridge over the river here, mentioned in 1480–2. (fn. 15) It had probably been built at about that time, as the ferry which it superseded, mention of which occurs in 1307–8, (fn. 16) is then described as being 'vacant' because of the bridge. By 1575 it was much decayed, and the inhabitants petitioned for its repair (fn. 17); Hall's charity was founded in 1576 for the repair of the bridge and the church. (fn. 18) A new bridge of stone was begun, the cost to be borne by the inhabitants of the county. A sum of £700 was raised (fn. 19) and two arches with 'the waterwork of the whole bridge' were completed by 1593. (fn. 20) Some of the inhabitants refusing to pay the tax, the work was suspended, and by 1605–6 part of the bridge had fallen down and the rest was greatly decayed. In that year an Act of Parliament (fn. 21) was passed enjoining its completion within three years. It was a handsome stone structure with five high arches and massive buttresses. (fn. 22) Two of the arches are said to have been broken down in 1643 (fn. 23); the bridge was repaired, but again made impassable in the spring of 1644. (fn. 24) It was broken down by the Scots on 22 August 1651, (fn. 25) and General Massey took possession of the town. (fn. 26) Some of his entrenchments are still visible in a field near Pool Brook, on the right side of the road leading to Hanley Castle. (fn. 27) On 28 August the Parliamentary army under General Lambert succeeded in crossing the bridge, (fn. 28) and entering the town forced the Scots to retreat. (fn. 29) The Parliamentary troops remained at Upton till they marched to Worcester on 3 September. (fn. 30) The bridge must have been roughly repaired, but constant disagreements between the charity feoffees and the magistrates as to the amount of the charity money to be spent on the bridge led to so little being done that finally it was washed away by a flood in 1852. (fn. 31) It was then decided by the Court of Chancery that the county was entitled to receive annually a third of the charity for the bridge. A new iron one of four spans was built in 1853. (fn. 32)
In 1613 a petition was addressed to the quarter sessions by some hundreds of the fishermen of Worcestershire and Shropshire complaining that the people of Upton upon Severn, Holdfast and Ripple fished with nets reaching across the river and from top to bottom of it, so that they took all the fish (sometimes sixty salmon at a draught); what they did not take they drove back, so that the river was destroyed for fishing. (fn. 33)
A curious cavern is described as having been discovered in a field in this parish in 1787 by a shepherd boy. It extended about 20 ft. and had in it a pit or shaft 140 ft. in depth and full of water. (fn. 34)
John Wesley preached at Upton in 1768 and again in 1770. (fn. 37) John Dee, a famous mathematician and astrologer, born in 1527, 'a person of extensive learning, but vain, credulous and enthusiastic, by turns a dupe and a cheat' was presented in 1553 to the rectory of Upton upon Severn, in exchange for a pension of 100 crowns which Edward VI had given him in 1551. (fn. 38) Frederick Charles Skey, a famous surgeon, was born here in 1798. (fn. 39) John Harley, Bishop of Hereford 1553–4, (fn. 40) and John Davison, a well-known theological writer (1777–1834), were among the rectors of this place. (fn. 41) In 1297 John of Monmouth vacated the living of Upton to become Bishop of Llandaff. (fn. 42)
The following place-names occur: Calnase, le Glynge, Chekemede, Colynghurst, Bonhey, (fn. 43) Hendichyng, Pilynges, Phypknaves, Stokelond, (fn. 44) Heymore, Wyllespleke (fn. 45) (xv cent.); Welsporynge, Arkebroke (fn. 46) (xvi cent.); Brownings Moores, Stoney Acres (fn. 47) (xviii cent.). Buryfield (Buryfeld), (fn. 48) Le Southend and Newbridge Green (Newbriggrene), Newstreet and Upper Ham (Overham) are all mentioned in the 15th century. (fn. 49)
UPTON UPON SEVERN seems to have been part of the original endowment of Winchcomb Abbey by Coenwulf, King of Mercia (796–821), (fn. 50) for a Worcester charter (fn. 51) records that in 897 Ealdorman Æthelwulf (fn. 52) held an inquiry concerning the lands mentioned in the charters of Coenwulf, concerning his inheritance, when he found that no heir had power to grant for more than one life the lands of Coenwulf's inheritance that pertained to Winchcomb. The Ealdorman 'spoke' of the estate of 5 hides 'in Uptune' to Wullaf, (fn. 53) who then held it, as it was part of the inheritance. Wullaf stated that Cynethryth (fn. 54) granted the land to his father for three lives and that Ælflæd (fn. 55) had afterwards granted it to Wullaf himself for three lives. It was decided by Æthelred (fn. 56) and the Witan that the grant could not stand in any other form than that established in Coenwulf's time. Wullaf thereupon surrendered the charters (libellos) of Cynethryth and Ælflæd to Æthelwulf, who then ordered the present one to be made to Wullaf, with reversion after his death to the see of Worcester for the redemption of the soul of Coenwulf and his heirs and for the restoration of peace between the monastery (familia) of Worcester and that of Winchcomb, and in order that the peace made between them by Bishop Werferth and Æthelwulf, with the testimony of King Alfred and Ealdorman Æthelred, should be observed for ever. In 962 Oswald Bishop of Worcester granted for three lives to his servant Cynelm a certain piece of land named Upton, containing 6 'mansae,' (fn. 57) which was to revert afterwards to the church of God in Worcester. In 1086 the Bishop of Worcester held Upton as a member of his manor of Ripple, (fn. 58) and his successors continued to hold as overlords till the 16th century. (fn. 59)
Upton seems to have been part of the bishop's demesne both in 1086 and at the later survey of 1108–18. (fn. 60) Peter de Saltmarsh about 1182 held 3 hides in Upton pertaining to Ripple. (fn. 61) He was succeeded before 1194 by William de Saltmarsh, who in that year paid 5 marks for retaining his park of Upton until the king's return from Normandy. (fn. 62) It seems possible that William died shortly afterwards, leaving a young heir, for in 1210–12 Robert Beauchamp was returned as holder of half a knight's fee in Upton, (fn. 63) and in 1216 the two manors at Upton, formerly belonging to Peter de Saltmarsh and Stephen Beauchamp, were granted to Robert Mortimer, (fn. 64) and later in the same year to John de Arderne. (fn. 65) In 1233 another Peter de Saltmarsh was dealing with a third of half a knight's fee in Upton and Throckmorton, (fn. 66) and in 1238–9 he had a suit with Bishop Walter Cantilupe respecting the manorial rights of Upton. (fn. 67) As a result the bishop acquired an annual rent of 100s. (fn. 68) together with the advowson of the church, two messuages and some land, as well as the service of half a knight by which the manor had been held formerly. In 1242–3 William de Saltmarsh dealt with lands in Upton, (fn. 69) and in 1276 he or another William paid a subsidy of 46s. 8d. for his lands here. (fn. 70) Peter de Saltmarsh held Upton in 1299, (fn. 71) and in 1300 he settled the reversion of the manor on Thomas le Boteler and Joan his wife, (fn. 72) who was probably at that time Peter's heir-apparent. (fn. 73) Sir Thomas and Joan in 1344–5 settled the manor on themselves with remainder to their sons William and Thomas, (fn. 74) and in 1346 Thomas le Boteler was in possession of half a knight's fee here formerly belonging to Robert Beauchamp. (fn. 75) In 1361, however, Edward Kardiff and his wife Joan claimed the manor against Sir Thomas le Boteler, stating that it had been settled on William de Saltmarsh and his wife Amphillis and their issue in the time of Edward I, and that Joan was granddaughter and heir of Peter de Saltmarsh. Sir Thomas denied that the manor had been settled in tail on William de Saltmarsh, but before the suit was ended he had to go to Ireland on the king's service, and the estate was temporarily taken into the king's hands. (fn. 76) It was perhaps on account of his absence that Edward Kardiff and Joan were able to recover the manor, which they sold in 1363–4 to John de Aldrinton, Sir Lambert Weston and Robert de Purlee. (fn. 77) It was afterwards purchased of them by Edward le Despencer and his wife Elizabeth. (fn. 78) Elizabeth survived her husband and in 1400 had protection for her lands, including this manor. (fn. 79) Upton followed the descent of Hanley Castle (q.v.) until both came into the hands of Henry VII. It was granted by Edward VI in 1550 to John Dudley Earl of Warwick. (fn. 80) He was created Duke of Northumberland in 1551, (fn. 81) and in the same year granted the manor to feoffees for the use for their lives of his eldest surviving son (fn. 82) John Earl of Warwick (fn. 83) and his wife Anne. A projected exchange of this manor for the monastery of Tynemouth (fn. 84) does not seem to have taken effect, for Anne was still in possession of the manor in 1557–8, (fn. 85) when Queen Mary granted it in reversion to Sir John Bourne, (fn. 86) the manor having become forfeit to the Crown by the attainder of the Duke of Northumberland. Sir John died in 1575 (fn. 87) and his son Anthony in 1577 conveyed the manor to Sir John Conway and others, (fn. 88) probably as trustees for his daughters; the conveyance was confirmed in 1589. (fn. 89) Mary daughter and coheir of Sir Anthony Bourne married Sir Herbert Croft, (fn. 90) and in 1593 Sir Anthony and Sir Herbert Croft and Mary sold Upton (fn. 91) to Sir Henry Bromley and his wife Anne. (fn. 92) The former died in 1615, leaving Upton to his younger son Henry by his wife Anne daughter of Thomas Scott. (fn. 93) He married Mary daughter of Sir William Lygon (fn. 94) and died in 1647–8. (fn. 95) His son Henry, who succeeded him at Upton, (fn. 96) died in 1667, (fn. 97) and Upton passed to his second son Henry. His will is dated 1685 (fn. 98) and his son William, who was a minor in 1694, (fn. 99) died in 1756. His daughter and heir Judith married John Martin of Overbury, (fn. 100) and Upton thus passed to the Martin family. (fn. 101) John Martin was Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1770. (fn. 102) He died without issue in 1794 (fn. 103) and was succeeded by his nephew the Rev. Joseph Martin of Ham Court, who died in 1828. His eldest son Joseph John, who was Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1832, (fn. 104) died without issue in 1873 and was succeeded by his nephew George Edward, Sheriff of Worcestershire, in 1882. He died in 1905 and his son Eliot George Bromley Martin is the present owner of the manor. (fn. 105)
Richard Beauchamp Earl of Warwick (ob. 1439) granted Seliesplace to the Prior of Little Malvern in return for land imparked at Hanley. (fn. 108) At the Dissolution the prior's lands here were valued at 54s. 6d., (fn. 109) and were granted in 1544 to William Pinnock, (fn. 110) when they probably became merged in Tiltridge.
The manor of TILTRIDGE (fn. 111) (Tylkcrege, Tyltryge, xvi cent.) is not mentioned till 1542–3, when it was conveyed by Ralph Chabnore to William Pinnock. (fn. 112) On the death of William Pinnock in 1555 Tiltridge passed to his brother John, (fn. 113) who died in the same year. (fn. 114) His son and heir William made a settlement of the manor on his marriage with Catherine daughter of Richard Sheldon. (fn. 115) He died in 1576 (fn. 116) and his son John in 1590 (fn. 117); the latter was succeeded by a sister Mary, who with her husband John Young held the manor of Tiltridge in 1597. (fn. 118) It is not afterwards mentioned as a manor.
The old church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL stands at the north end of the town close to the right bank of the Severn, but is now disused. Only the tower is ancient, the rest of the structure having been rebuilt in the style of the day in 1756–7. (fn. 119) Nash records that the old church had two chancels, 'one belonging to the parishioners and the other to the parson,' the former lying on the right side of the altar, and he notes some armorial glass in the east window. 'In the north side of the wall under a fair arch was a tomb with a cross, and under another arch, curiously wrot with strange emblems, on a raised monument, the portraiture of a knight and his lady.' (fn. 120) The tower is of 14th-century date and was originally surmounted by a spire, but this, with the parapet, was removed at the time of the rebuilding and a wooden lantern erected in its place. No record appears to have been kept as to the date or appearance of the old building, the destruction of which was very complete. Every tomb and tablet is said to have been broken into pieces or built into the walls of neighbouring farmyards, (fn. 121) the churchyard was levelled, and the spire had to be pulled down by harnessing a team of horses with ropes to the stonework. (fn. 122) The rebuilt church was first used for service in the summer of 1757, though not finished till 1758, when a gallery was erected at the west end and a chandelier and the king's arms were put up. (fn. 123) The building consists of a nave 62 ft. 6 in. long by 41 ft. in width, with a recess 11 ft. deep and 20 ft. wide at the east end forming the sanctuary. There are galleries on the north and south as well as at the west end, and second galleries were erected at a later date close to the roof on the north and south, slightly returned at the west end. There is a semicircular chancel arch flanked by fluted pilasters carrying an entablature across the east end of the nave, the cornice alone being continued round the rest of the building. Externally the structure is quite plain in design with tall round-headed windows and smaller semicircular openings to the galleries. It is constructed of stone and has a red tiled roof rising behind a straight parapet and cornice. The chancel recess has a coped gable. The building has been abandoned since 1879 and is now (1912) in a state of great dilapidation, the windows broken, the plaster dropping from the ceiling, and all the fittings in a state of decay. The font, which consists of a circular fluted plaster bowl on a tall pedestal, lies in three pieces. The original square pews remain.
The tower is 12 ft. 6 in. square inside and is built of red sandstone, now very much weathered. Externally it consists of two stages and has diagonal buttresses on the west side and a vice in the southwest angle. The belfry windows are narrow openings of two trefoiled lights with transom at half height and double-chamfered jambs, but without hood moulds. The west window is of two trefoiled lights with good geometrical tracery in the head and is also without a hood mould. The doorway on the south side was inserted in the 18th century, when the west wall of the new nave was built up against the tower arch and access from the interior of the church to the tower done away with. The arch, which is now only visible from within the tower, consists of two chamfered orders. The bells have been removed to the new church, but the tower contains a modern clock with two striking bells cast by H. Bond of Burford, Oxon., 1902. The wooden lantern is octagonal in plan and is surmounted by a lead-covered cupola.
The new church of ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL stands at the south end of the town, near the railway station, and consists of chancel with north vestry and south organ chamber, clearstoried nave of five bays, north and south aisles, and north-west tower and spire, the tower forming a porch. The church was erected in 1878–9, (fn. 124) and is built of yellow Stanway rubble with Bath stone dressings and red tiled roofs. It is in the style of the 14th century, the spire rising to a height of 183 ft. A number of mural tablets dating from 1756 to 1864 were removed from the old church in 1903 together with the effigy of one of the Boteler family, and are now at the west end of the nave. The effigy is as described by Nash, (fn. 125) but the legs are gone, the monument having been broken to pieces when the nave was rebuilt in the 18th century and used as a foundation stone. (fn. 126)
There is a ring of eight bells, six from the old church and two new ones added in 1902. Five of the old bells are by Abraham Rudhall, 1705, and the sixth by T. Mears, 1837. The two new ones are by Bond of Burford. (fn. 127)
The plate consists of a cup, paten and flagon of 1715, the cup and flagon inscribed, 'Given to the Parish of Upton upon Seavern in the county of Worcester, by Mr. Richard Smith, Rector of the same place and Anne his wife in the year 1715,' (fn. 128) and the paten, 'The gift of Mr. Richard Smith and Anne his wife 1715,' a small paten without date letter, inscribed 'C.W. I.M.,' and a chalice and paten of 1881, mediaeval pattern, inscribed, 'Church of St. Peter and St. Paul Upton-on-Severn 30 August 1881, W.J.P., A.M.P. 'There is also a perforated spoon. A chalice and cover paten of 1571 were sold in 1758.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1546 to 1627; (ii) baptisms 1627 to 1673, burials 1627 to 1671, marriages 1627 to 1664; (iii) baptisms 1671 to 1782, burials 1671 to 1774, marriages 1671 to 1747; (iv) baptisms and burials 1781 to 1808; (v) marriages 1754 to 1783; (vi) marriages 1783 to 1811; (vii) burials 1808 to 1812; (viii) baptisms 1808 to 1812.
The church of the GOOD SHEPHERD, Hook Common, is of stone in 13th-century style, and consists of chancel, nave and eastern turret containing one bell. It serves as a chapel of ease to the parish church.
Two priests are mentioned in the Domesday Survey of Ripple and Upton, (fn. 129) and probably one was attached to the church of Upton. The advowson appears to have belonged to the holder of the manor (fn. 130) till it was acquired by the Bishop of Worcester in his suit against Peter de Saltmarsh in 1239, (fn. 131) and his successors have since held it (fn. 132) except during the vacancy of the see (fn. 133) and during the latter part of the 16th century, when it was held by the Pinnock family (fn. 134) by arrangement with the bishop. (fn. 135)
In 1231 Peter de Saltmarsh had a dispute with Richard parson of Ripple concerning the tithes belonging to the church of Upton. (fn. 136) A composition was made between the rectors of the two churches in 1283, by which it was agreed that the rector of Ripple should receive various tithes for life, paying 4 marks yearly to the rector of Upton. (fn. 137) The Bishop of Worcester visited Upton in 1339 and dedicated the altar (fn. 138) in the parish church.
The charity of Edward Hall.— The original deed of grant in Latin is still extant, bearing date 4 March 1576, whereby certain houses and land were enfeoffed and confirmed to trustees their heirs and assigns 'ad opus et usus reparationis ecclesie parochialis de Upton super Sabrinam et ad opus et usus reparationis cujusdem pontis vocatae Upton Brydge et ad opus et usus alios necessarios infra parochia de Upton de tempore in tempus.'
This charity was the subject of an inquisition taken under a commission dated 10 July 1600, (fn. 139) and also in 1816 of certain Chancery proceedings by the attorney-general at the relation of William Welsh and others. Further Chancery proceedings took place in 1852 and 1913. The trust property now consists of about 30 a. of land and several houses in Upton upon Severn, the whole producing about £180 per annum, and of £93 2s. 10d. consols derived from the sale in 1877 of a cottage and workshop in Backfield Road, producing £2 6s. 4d. yearly.
The charity is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 25 March 1892, whereby one-third of the net income is made applicable towards the repair and general expenses of the church, one-third for the bridge, and the remaining one-third, known as the General Purposes Branch, is applicable in the upkeep of the town clock and tower and in the repair of roads, &c.
In 1675 Thomas Morris aliasWoodward, of the East Indies, surgeon, as stated on the church table, bequeathed £185 for the church and poor of this parish. The trust estate now consists of 21 a. of pasture land let at £50 yearly, and a landing wharf producing £1 10s. yearly.
In 1606 Henry Toney, by his will, charged certain lands with an annuity of 20s. for the poor. In respect of this payment 15s. is reserved out of a house in New Street, 2s. 6d. out of a meadow in New Street and 2s. 6d. out of a cottage in the same street.
Five-sixths of the net income of the three preceding charities is applicable for church expenses, and the residue is applied in subscriptions to Upton Nursing Home, in school prizes and in gifts to the poor.
The Girls' Charity School, founded by wills of Richard Smith, 1716, and of his widow, Mrs. Ann Smith, 1718, and further endowed by will of Mrs. Sarah Husband, 1824, is endowed with 8 a. o r. 22 p., rental value about £30 a year, and £90 7s. 7d consols arising from sale of land taken by the Tewkesbury and Malvern railway, producing £2 5s. yearly, with the official trustees, who also hold a sum of £20 consols for a sermon on Good Friday.
It appears from a memorandum dated in 1797 that George King gave certain securities towards establishing a charity school. The trust fund now consists of £238 13s. consols with the official trustees, producing £5 19s. 4d. a year, which under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 17 March 1882 is applied in prizes or rewards to children attending any public elementary school (see also under 'Schools' below).
In 1890 Emily Annie Lawson by deed settled a sum of £300 India 3 per cent. stock for providing nursing for the poor. The trust fund, subsequently augmented to £440 4s. 4d. like stock by accumulations of income and gifts by Mr. George Holloway, is held by the official trustees, producing £13 4s. yearly. The income is applied for the benefit of Upton upon Severn Nursing Home.
In 1906 Francis William Holland, by his will proved at Worcester 6 March, bequeathed £400, the income to be paid to the minister of the Baptist chapel, Upton upon Severn. The legacy was invested in £385 1s. 7d. India 3½ per cent. stock, producing £13 9s. 4d. yearly. The same testator bequeathed £100, the income to be applied in coal to ten poor people. This legacy was invested in £96 5s. 5d. India 3½ per cent. stock, producing £3 5s. 4d. yearly.