A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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This small parish adjoins the more modern Stourport, which lies upon the opposite bank of the Severn, the river forming the boundary of the parish on the east and north-east. (fn. 1) West and north-west are the tree-covered slopes towards Ribbesford and Bewdley. The Gladder Brook forms the northern and the Dick Brook part of the western boundary, and the parish is also watered by Burnthorn Brook, a tributary of the Severn.
It is intersected by the road from the Hundred House to Stourport, which, running north-east across the parish, crosses the Severn by a bridge at Stourport. A road from Bewdley to Worcester runs through the parish from north to south.
The village, which is somewhat scattered, contains some old timber and brick houses. The rectory is an early 17th-century house with a triple-gabled front, remodelled in the 18th century, when sash windows were inserted. In the garden is a square two-storied garden-house built by Richard Vernon, a former rector, in 1728. Over the doorway, with the Vernon shield, is the inscription 'Ricardi Vernon A.M. a domesticis rebus recessus.' The ground-floor room is panelled, and has a fireplace flanked by fluted Ionic pilasters. Areley Hall, the residence of Mr. Francis Zachary Lloyd, stands to the east of the main road below the church. Prince Rupert is said to have made the house his headquarters in 1644 when marching from Worcester. (fn. 2) The house, which is of two stories with an attic, and is covered externally with rough-cast, probably dates from the late 16th century; though much altered in the 19th century, it retains substantially its original plan of a central hall, now divided by partitions, with the offices on the east and the living apartments on the west. Much original work, including the old oak-studded main entrance door, survives. The square well stairway, north of the hall, preserves its original oak treads at the top, but the well hole has been inclosed, the space being used for cupboards.
Areley House, at the junction of the Bewdley and Stourport roads, is a rectangular three-storied stone house of the late 18th century. On the south front is a central portico with Ionic columns, which admits to a square hall having rooms on the east and west and an oval drawing rooms on the north, which partly projects in the form of a curved bay window from the external face of the wall. Areley Court, the residence of Mr. Edward Alfred Broome, F.R.G.S., is to the south of the church.
Walshe Farm, on the south side of the Stourport and Tenbury road, is a half-timber two-storied house of the early 17th century, with 18th-century and modern brick additions. The original central chimney stack still remains. Grove Farm, on the west side of the same road, about a mile and three-quarters southwest of the church, is a half-timber house of the same period, with a projecting wing at the rear and a twostoried entrance porch. The chimney stacks, which are of brick, are of the intersecting diagonal type.
Redstone House, a square three-storied brick house on the bank of the Severn at the extreme south of the parish, bears on the south front the date 1685 below the figure of a heart. The house, which is now divided into two cottages, preserves its original late 17th-century dog-legged stairs with moulded handrail, square newels, and twisted balusters, some of which are now missing; some of the windows retain their original leaded lights.
Sturt Farm in the west of the parish near Dick Brook is said to have been for a time the home of Sir Harry Coningsby, who died in 1701. According to tradition he lived a solitary life of retirement here after the death of his only daughter, whom he accidentally let fall into the moat while playing with her in his moated Herefordshire home. (fn. 3) There is a curious monument to him in the churchyard. Noake says that, according to Sir Harry's instructions, a walnut tree was planted close to his grave that the boys of the parish might have the walnuts and crack them on the gravestone, but that the tree was cut down by a late rector. (fn. 4)
The surface of the parish is irregular, but has a general slope from the Abberley Hills beyond its south-western border to the valley of the Severn on the east. At Areley Wood in the north-west a height of over 400 ft. is reached. The parish contains 1,491 acres of land and 12 acres covered by water. In 1905 there were 559 acres of arable land, 501 acres of permanent grass, and 120 acres of woodland. (fn. 5) The subsoil is Old Red and Keuper Sandstone and Bunter Pebble beds; the soil is loam, producing crops of wheat, barley, oats and potatoes. There are disused brickworks south-east of Areley Wood. The parish was inclosed under an Act of 1846, (fn. 6), the award being dated 16 December 1848. (fn. 7)
ARELEY KINGS formed part of the manor of Martley (fn. 8) until 1654, when the latter was sold by the Mucklows. (fn. 9) They retained Areley Kings, and William Mucklow made a conveyance of it in 1671–2. (fn. 10) He died in 1686, and was succeeded by his son William, (fn. 11) a citizen and fishmonger of London. He was followed in 1713 by his son Selby Mucklow, a merchant of London, who died in 1746. (fn. 12) His daughter and sole heir died without issue in 1766, having married Joseph Wragg of London, merchant, (fn. 13) and the manor passed to the heirs of Elizabeth, sister of Selby Mucklow. She had married Thomas Zachary of Cannon Street, London, who died in 1741. (fn. 14) They had issue Daniel, citizen and skinner of London, who was holding the manor in 1772, (fn. 15) and whose son John owned the manor in 1780. (fn. 16) It was described at that date as the manor of Lower Areley and Dunley, or Areley Kings and Dunley. It continued in the family of the Zacharys until at the death of Daniel Zachary in 1873 it passed to his grandson Sampson Zachary Lloyd, son of his daughter Sarah, who had married Sampson Lloyd of Wednesbury. (fn. 17) He died in 1914 and Mr. Francis Zachary Lloyd, his son, is the present owner of the manor. He resides at Areley Hall, the ancient manor-house, to which considerable alterations were made by Daniel Zachary. (fn. 18)
An estate at Areley Kings, called in the 16th century the manor of Areley, originated in a fishery at 'Ernel' with the land belonging to it, granted by the Empress Maud to Bordesley Abbey on its foundation in 1136. (fn. 19) Her gift was confirmed by subsequent kings, (fn. 20) and about the middle of the 13th century the estate consisted of a virgate of land and a fishery, and was held of the king in frankalmoign. (fn. 21) The monastery of Bordesley retained its property in Areley until the Dissolution. (fn. 22) The abbey estates in Areley were granted on 19 July 1544 to John Pakington of Hampton Lovett, (fn. 23) but their further descent has not been traced.
The church of ST. BARTHOLOMEW consists of a chancel 17 ft. 9 in. by 15 ft. 7 in., north organ chamber and vestry, nave 62 ft. 9 in. by 18 ft. 10 in., north aisle 13 ft. 8 in. wide, and a tower on the south side of the nave, at about the middle of its length, 9 ft. 7 in. by 9 ft. 2 in., the ground stage of which serves as a south porch. These measurements are all internal.
The church was entirely rebuilt in 1885–6, with the exception of the chancel and tower. A 12thcentury window recently opened up in the south wall of the chancel places its early origin beyond doubt. The tower is of the late 14th century. The whole building, modern and ancient, is of sandstone ashlar.
The east window of the chancel dates from the late 18th century, and is designed in the ChippendaleGothic style then in vogue. On either side of it externally are buttresses of two offsets, evidently of original date, but so much patched up with brick that it is difficult to say with certainty whether they occupy their original positions. The gable has been entirely rebuilt in brick. At the south-east of the chancel is the 12th-century window referred to above, a plain narrow round-headed light, partly renewed, with wide internal splays. The position of the large buttress on the outside, almost against its western jamb, shows that it had been walled up at least as early as the 14th century. To the west is a plain doorway, now blocked, with a two-centred head continuously chamfered with the jambs. The north wall is almost entirely occupied by a modern arch opening into the organ chamber. The jambs and head of a 16th-century doorway, which probably formed the entrance to a vestry of this date, were taken out of the wall when the arch was formed, and reset in the west wall of the vestry, where they have been utilized in the construction of a cupboard recess. The chancel arch is modern, and the timbers of the roof are concealed by a plaster ceiling. In the east wall of the organ chamber is a round-arched doorway with a rollmoulded external head and shafted jambs, some of the arch-stones of which are of 12th-century date. These were removed here from the north doorway of the original nave when the church was rebuilt in 1885–6.
The late 14th-century tower is of three stages, with diagonal buttresses of four offsets at the angles, that at the north-west, which is somewhat wider than the others, containing the vice. The plain parapet and gabled pinnacle stems have evidently been much disturbed. The portion of the south wall of the original nave against which the tower is built still remains in situ, and contains a much restored south doorway, which has a two-centred external head and jambs continuously moulded with a swelled chamfer. The head is modern, but one or two jamb stones are of original late 14th-century date. The north wall of the tower, being built against the nave wall, allows room for a square-headed doorway leading to the vice in the thickness of the west jamb. Above the present rear arch of the south doorway are remains of a former rear arch, which may have belonged to the south doorway of a 12th-century nave. The ground stage of the tower serves as a south porch, and is entered by a large external doorway with a twocentred head of two orders, both moulded inside and out with a swelled chamfer. Above the head is a characteristically moulded label, returned horizontally at the springing along the tower wall and stopped by the buttresses at the angles. At the north-west of the interior is a small plain stoup. The ringing stages is lighted by small square-headed lights, and the bellchamber by two-light windows with two-centred heads, containing vertical tracery.
The modern nave is divided from the north aisle by an arcade of four bays, supported by columns alternately circular and octagonal. The west window is of four lights; the remaining windows of both nave and aisle are of three lights, all traceried in the style of the early 14th century. The open timber roofs are of varnished pine.
Fragments of the stem and base of the font are of the 12th century, and were discovered on the demolition of the nave; along the base is carved in Roman characters: '+ tempore: la ... amanni (fn. 24): santi' (sic). From the character of the lettering, the inscription appears to be of the early 17th century. Preserved in the vestry is a late 18th-century half-moon table, squared out at the angles, which long served as an altar. The sounding-board of the old pulpit is now used as a table.
Inside the building there are no monuments of any interest, with the exception of a slab in the chancel floor, in memory of Walter Walsh, who died in 1702, containing the following quaint inscription:
'Here lieth ye body of Walter Walsh who departed this life 3rd day of November, being aged 83 years, 1702, Son of Michael Walsh of Great Shelsley, who left him a fine estate in Shelesley, Hartlebury, and Areley, who was ruinated by 3 Quackers, 2 Lawyers, and a fanatick to help them.'
In the churchyard south-west of the church is the curious monument of Sir Henry Coningsby kt., who died in 1701. (fn. 25) The memorial takes the form of a short length of churchyard wall, composed of large blocks of sandstone, averaging 4 ft. 6 in. in length by 1 ft. 10 in. deep, and 1 ft. 8 in. thick. Upon it is inscribed in large Roman capitals:
A tall sundial, dated 1687 and having a figure of Time on the stem, stood till recently in the churchyard, but was blown down in a gale on Christmas Eve, 1912. It was brought here from Hartlebury, where it was known as the 'Wizard's Pillar,' having been made by one Fidkin, reputed to be a wizard, and set up in his garden. (fn. 26)
The plate consists of a silver cup of 1571; a cover paten of 1570, inscribed on the foot 'Anó Dńi 1571'; a paten, presented in 1909, a facsimile of the preceding piece; a large plated flagon inscribed I.B. [-] I.B [-] C.W.S.; and a plated silver paten.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1539 to 1665 (there is a gap between 1640 and 1645), marriages 1539 to 1664 (no entries from 1643 to 1650), burials 1539 to 1665; (ii) baptisms 1666 to 1702, marriages 1667 to 1702, burials 1665 to 1702; (iii) baptisms and burials 1703 to 1794, marriages 1703 to 1754; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1780 (printed forms torn out and slipped into the volume), and marriages 1783 to 1812, bound into the volume; (v) baptisms 1783 to 1812; (vi) burials 1784 to 1812.
The earliest mention of the church at Areley is probably Lazamon's reference, circa 1200, to the noble church upon the Severn's bank at 'Ernleie.' In 1291 it was taxed at £5 13s. 4d., as the 'chapel of Arleia,' (fn. 27) and it was still looked upon as a dependent chapel of Martley in the middle of the 17th century, (fn. 28) the advowson always belonging to the rectors of Martley. (fn. 29) The date at which Areley Kings became parochial is not known, but probably its dependence on the mother church consisted merely of a money payment even in the 14th century, for it is called a church in 1340, (fn. 30) and is returned as a separate rectory in 1535, when an annual pension of 6s. 8d. was paid to the parish church of Martley by the rector. (fn. 31)
At the Dissolution the yearly value of a parcel of land given for the maintenance of certain masses at Areley known as St. Catherine's Masses was 5s. (fn. 32) A grant was made to Cecily Pickerell, widow, and her heirs, on 6 February 1563, among other premises given to superstitious uses, of a cottage in Dunley. (fn. 33)
The funds of certain of the charities mentioned on the church table were expended in or about the year 1810 in the erection of cottages on the waste for decayed labourers, and the funds of other charities were lost through the insolvency of the holder thereof. The official trustees, however, hold the funds of the following charities, namely:
The Church Lands, or the Pound Farm Charity, (fn. 34) consist of a piece of freehold land containing 6 a. 3 r. and a house at Astley Cross, let at £15 a year, which is applied towards general church expenses.