A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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COTHERIDGE (fn. 1)
Coddanhrycce (x cent.); Codderycce, Koderie, Codrie (xi cent.); Kodere, Coddarycge (xii cent.); Codrigg, Coderigge, Codrugge (xiii cent.); Coterugge (xiv cent.); Coderych, Coderiche (xv, xvi cent.); Cotheridge, Cowtrige, Cowderidge (xvii cent.).
Cotheridge, bounded on the south and south-west by the River Teme, is nearly 4 miles west from Worcester and a mile north-east of Leigh Court station on the Great Western railway on the opposite side of the Teme.
By a Local Government Board Order, which came into operation on 25 March 1884, that part of Bransford lying north of the Teme was amalgamated with Cotheridge and part of Cotheridge lying south of the river was added to Bransford. (fn. 2) At the same date Ossage Farm was transferred from Cotheridge to Wichenford and part of Broadwas was transferred to Cotheridge. (fn. 3)
The church stands a little distance to the south of the Worcester and Bromyard road, and is surrounded on the east, west, and south by the park of Cotheridge Court, which lies to the west of the church and is approached from the east by a fine avenue of lime trees. The village is small and widely scattered, Cotheridge itself consisting mainly of the Court, Church Farm to the north of the church, the school built in 1869, and Lower Court Farm, about a quarter of a mile to the south of the Court upon the southern borders of the park. This latter is a plastered halftimber house of the late 16th century, two stories in height with an attic, and retains its original newel stair.
Cotheridge Court is a large half-timber house, two stories in height with an attic, dating mainly from the latter half of the 16th century, though the north wing probably incorporates earlier work. The plan consists of a central block containing the entrance hall and principal staircases, with the kitchen and offices at the rear, a shallow L-shaped wing on the north, and a long and narrow wing on the south, both projecting symmetrically on the east or entrance front. This and the south front were cased with brick in 1770, and sash windows were substituted for the original openings, imparting an entirely 18thcentury character to the exterior. A view of the east front previous to this date, now in the possession of Mr. Rowland Serkeley, the present owner, shows that as originally designed the walls were crowned with four gables, one to each wing and two to the central block, from the centre of which projected a small porch with a gabled room above it. This porch was removed when the new front was put on, and the gabled attics were concealed by a brick wall with sham glazed windows surmounted by a plain parapet, to which a balustrade with vases was added about fifty years ago. When these alterations were made, a new staircase was constructed at the southern end of the entrance hall, curtailing its length very considerably, and the drawing room which occupies the eastern end of the south wing was redecorated in an excellent style. The 18th-century entrance doorway, which has a moulded architrave and consoles supporting a pediment containing a shield with the arms of Berkeley, opens directly into the hall, which is now nearly square, but must originally have extended to the south wing before the later staircase was taken out of it. A moulded beam of original 16th-century date is the only surviving detail of interest here. The principal staircase on the north side of the hall is a fine piece of Elizabethan work, and rises in three flights to the first floor round a square well. The massive newels are crowned by moulded finials, and the heavily moulded handrails, which are continued round the first floor landing, are supported by square raking balusters joined at their heads by small semicircular arches, also placed on the rake. All the parts are liberally proportioned, the newels being about 7½ in. square, the handrails 6½ in. deep, and the strings 10½ in. deep. The dining room, at the east end of the adjoining north wing, is lined with panelling of the late 16th century, while the room to the west of it, known as the 'brown parlour,' has a plaster ceiling of the same date with a rose in the centre, and contemporary panelling, behind which, on the south side of the room, is an upright, painted with fluting and other ornament of earlier 16th-century character, indicating that the panelling is of later date than the original construction of this portion of the house. To the north of the dining room is a small panelled room, traditionally called 'the sot's hole,' and at the north end of the wing is a narrow staircase, probably of original date. Externally the walls of this wing are gabled on the north and west, where they have escaped the 18th-century refacing; two of the barge-boards of the gables are carved and the original stone chimney stacks remain. The drawing room in the south wing retains its 18th-century ceiling, doorcases, and carved wood chimneypiece, and the offices on the west side of the house contain much original work, but, with the exception of the room over 'the sot's hole,' which has good plaster work of the late 16th century, the upper floors have been largely modernized. A large kitchen yard is formed on the north-west of the house, with a row of half-timber outbuildings on the north side.
The Teme is crossed by a ferry to the south-west of the village. A stream which rises near the Worcester road flows southward through the parish and falls into the Teme. To the south-east of the village is the hamlet of Howson. (fn. 4) There is a moated inclosure near the western boundary. The whole parish lies low. The land on the north-east is 200 ft. above the ordnance datum, but in the south and west it falls to the valley of the Teme, where the land is liable to floods.
The area is 2,125 acres of land and 19 acres covered by water, of which 459 acres are arable, 1,475 acres permanent grass, and 83 acres woods and plantations. (fn. 5) The soil is loam and clay, the subsoil Keuper Marl. The chief crops grown are wheat, beans and hops, and some land is in pasture.
Among the place-names found are Otherton in an early undated grant. (fn. 9) Forteys (fn. 10) (xv cent.); Bagenham, Shaylesground, Costhall (fn. 11) (xvi cent.); Churchfield, Stockoldfield, Howsons Homme, Blackmore, the Felbourne, the Plaishe, the Meares, the Fishpool, Crachley, the Sneyd (fn. 12) (xvii cent.).
Oswald, Bishop of Worcester, in 963, granted land called 'Coddanhrycce' to the thegn Ælfric for three lives, Ælfric appointing his son Æthelsige as second life, and the succession being limited to heirs male. (fn. 13) Heming's account of Cotheridge is that Earnwi, a wealthy reeve, bestowed it on his dearly loved brother 'Spiritus,' the favourite of Cnut's sons Harold and Hardicanute, that Spiritus was afterwards exiled from England, when Richard Scrob took possession of the property, which was thus lost to the monastery of Worcester. (fn. 14) Heming's story clearly relates to Spirtes, the canon of St. Mary Bromfield, whose exile is referred to in the Domesday Survey under Shropshire. (fn. 15) In 1086 Richard Scrob's son Osbern Fitz Richard held a hide at COTHERIDGE of the Bishop of Worcester's manor of Wick Episcopi. (fn. 16) Part of the manor (fn. 17) was held of the manor of Wick Episcopi until the beginning of the 14th century, (fn. 18) the rest was held directly of the king as of the barony of Burford. (fn. 19)
Cotheridge followed the descent of Wychbold (fn. 20) from 1086 until the death of Sir William Lucy in 1460. (fn. 21) It was then divided, like the manor of Ham Castle, between the families of Corbett and Vaux, the Corbett moiety (fn. 22) apparently passing like their share of Ham Castle to the family of Vaux after 1499. (fn. 23) In 1534 Sir Thomas Vaux, Lord Harrowden, sold this manor and a moiety of Rochford to Robert Acton, afterwards of Elmley Lovett, reserving to himself a rent of £20 from them. (fn. 24)
In 1537–8 Robert Acton as tenant of the manor received pardon for acquiring it without licence. (fn. 25) The manor then followed the descent of Elmley Lovett (fn. 26) until it was sold by Sir John Acton in 1615 to William Berkeley of Cowleigh, (fn. 27) son of Rowland Berkeley of Worcester and Spetchley, a wealthy clothier who came from Hereford to Worcester in the 16th century. William was sheriff of the county in 1617 (fn. 28) and compounded for not taking the order of knighthood in 1631. (fn. 29) William conveyed the manor, in trust for his wife, to his brother Sir Robert Berkeley in 1636, (fn. 30) and, though he did not die until 1658, (fn. 31) he seems to have been succeeded at Cotheridge before 1646 (fn. 32) by his son Sir Rowland Berkeley, who compounded for delinquency on 11 August in that year. (fn. 33) The charge against him was that 'his house being within three miles of Worcester, he continued to live there while it was held for the king, and was placed on a Commission for the safeguarding of the County, and for raising contributions for the king's forces.' On 25 August 1646 he paid a fine of £2,030. (fn. 34) He was among the Cavaliers who at the surrender of Worcester on 23 July 1646 obtained written passes of safety to their homes on taking the oath not to bear arms again against Parliament. (fn. 35) A valuable description of the Worcester battle-field at the memorable fight of the evening of 3 September 1651 survives from the pen of Sir Rowland, (fn. 36) who seems to have been brought to Worcester, much against his will, from Cotheridge, where he had this time remained at home 'resolved not to meddle.' He wrote to his father-in-law, Sir Thomas Cave, that he was fetched to 'King Charles' from Cotheridge by a major with a party of horse. Having learnt that a commission had been issued to him and other gentlemen of the county to assist Major-General Massey, then governor of Worcester, and 'not liking the employment,' he, while waiting for audience with the king, got to his horse and fled home with what speed he could, the battle being already hot on both sides of the town. He got in about nine that night, after an exciting ride through the army, being captured once by the Scots, and escaping from them again. The next morning by sunrise a party of the Parliament horse rode to Cotheridge and told Sir Rowland he must come with them to their general. They carried him off and took his dun colt with them, but by the time they reached St. John's he found they had no order for what they did, and again escaped home.
Sir Rowland was one of the gentlemen chosen by King Charles in 1660 to be invested with the order of the Royal Oak, an order which was not instituted. (fn. 37)
Thomas Berkeley, the only son of Sir Rowland, died in Greece, unmarried, on 25 October 1669, as is recorded in an inscription in Cotheridge Church. Sir Rowland's eldest daughter, Elizabeth, had married Henry Green of Wyken (co. Warw.), and her son Rowland inherited the manor in accordance with Rowland Berkeley's will. (fn. 38) He assumed the surname of Berkeley, (fn. 39) and was sheriff of the county in 1710. (fn. 40) His name is written 'Mr. Barkley Green' in a letter from Thomas Foley to Robert Harley of 17 July 1710, which describes a recent visit of Dr. Sacheverell to Cotheridge, at Mr. Berkeley Green's invitation. (fn. 41) On his death in 1731 he was followed in succession by his son Rowland, who died in 1759, and by his grandson of the same name, (fn. 42) who became sheriff of the county in 1764 (fn. 43) and M.P. for Droitwich in 1774. (fn. 44) He died in 1805, and was succeeded by his brother, the Rev. Henry Rowland Berkeley, D.C.L., Fellow of New College, Oxford, who also died childless in 1832. Cotheridge then passed to his nephew, (fn. 45) the Rev. Richard Rowland Tomkyns, Fellow of New College, rector of Great Horwood, Bucks., who assumed the name of Berkeley and died in 1840. (fn. 46) He was succeeded by his cousin, the Rev. John Rowland Berkeley, (fn. 47) who died unmarried in 1850, being followed by his brother William. William Berkeley died in 1869, when the manor of Cotheridge passed to his eldest son, the Rev. William Comyns Berkeley, who died in 1885, (fn. 48) and whose son Mr. Rowland Comyns Berkeley is now lord of the manor.
A mill worth 5s. in Cotheridge is mentioned in the Domesday Survey. (fn. 49) Thirty shillings rent from the mill of Cotheridge was granted by William de Stutevill and Margery his wife to Mabel widow of Hugh de Say in 1222–3, (fn. 50) and the mill descended with the manor until the 16th century. (fn. 51)
An early undated grant from Richard de Otherton of Cotheridge mentions Lyther Mill in the manor. (fn. 52)
The church of ST. LEONARD consists of a chancel 21 ft. 7 in. by 17ft. II in., north chapel 22 ft. II in. by 11 ft. 8 in., nave 45 ft. 10 in. by 23 ft. 9 in., and south tower, the lower stage of which forms the porch, 15 ft. 6 in. by 14 ft. 10 in. All these dimensions are internal.
The chancel and nave, built probably of sandstone, though plastered on both sides of the walls, date from the first half of the 12th century, windows having been inserted in the 13th and 15th centuries; the fabric was strengthened by buttresses in the 14th century, and the fine timber tower was erected in the 15th century. The north chapel, which is built of brick, was added probably about 1620, and the church was generally restored in 1684; subsequently some windows in the nave were widened, and early in the 19th century a small west gallery was erected. The church is roofed with tiles.
The chancel has a repaired early 15th-century east windows of four trefoiled lights; below the still on the outside are two original pilaster buttresses, and at the southern angle is a 15th-century diagonal buttress. In the north wall is a semicircular 17th-century arch to the chapel. In the south wall are two late 13thcentury windows; the easternmost is of two trefoiled lights with a plain piercing under a two-centred head, and the other, near the west end of the wall, is a single trefoiled light, the sill of which is carried to a lower level. Between the windows are two original pilaster buttresses. The north chapel, now used as a vestry, is a plain building relieved by clasping buttresses, and is faced with brickwork externally, and plastered within. Its only window, in the east wall, is of three plain lights under a square head and label. The narrow chancel arch is a charming and wellpreserved example of early 12th-century work. It is of a single order, and is semicircular, with a rounded outer edge enriched with cheveron moulding; the shafts, of a twisted rope-like form with a string of beads between the strands, have pointed scalloped capitals and moulded bases. On each side of the chancel arch there is a wide plain opening cut through the wall; that on the north, which has a flat arch towards the chancel and a semicircular one towards the nave, is probably of the 17th century, while the southern opening, which has a depressed four-centred arch, is of the 16th century.
The nave has two single-light windows in the north wall, one in the south wall, and two in the west wall, all originally of the early 12th century, but only the one in the south wall, inclosed by the tower, now remains intact; it is near the middle of the wall and is a narrow round-headed light with deeply splayed inner jambs and sill. Into the other openings 18th-century windows have been inserted. Near the east end of the south wall is a fine late 14th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights. The south doorway was probably rebuilt in the 17th century; it has a chamfered segmental arch of a single order. The north doorway is blocked. In the west wall above the gallery is a singlelight window of the early 19th century. There are three pilaster buttresses on the north and south walls (fn. 53) and one on the west wall, while at the angles are 14th-century buttresses, that at the north-east buried in the chapel wall.
The tower is in four stages, admirably constructed with heavy pieces of rough-hewn chestnut and oak, well tied and strutted together. The first two stages are coated with plaster externally and the upper ones covered with weather-boarding, probably of the 18th century, somewhat requiring repair. There are pairs of louvred lights in the belfry, and the tower has a low pyramidal slate roof. The lower stage, forming the porch, has a wide unglazed window with diagonal mullions on the west side, probably of the 17th century.
The chancel roof, probably of the 14th century, has a heavy central king-post truss and curved windbraces, and is plastered below the rafters and collars. The nave has a curved plaster ceilling with two tie beams of the same date as that in the chancel, but the beams are not trussed. The chapel has a central truss and a plastered ceiling along the lines of the rafters and collars.
The font is modern. The oak panelled pulpit is of the 17th century, cut down and remounted later; it is hexagonal and has a contemporary canopy. The altar rails are of the late 17th century. The chancel walls have a dado of early 17th-century panelling, and the nave pews are made up of panelling of the same period, cut and fitted together at a later date, probably at the restoration in the late 17th century. In the tower doorway is a 15th-century oak studded door, with original iron hinges. In the chapel window is a shield of 17th-century painted glass, with the arms of Berkeley with a label and the crest of a bear's head razed and muzzled. On the chancel floor are several 15th-century tiles; among these, four bear the arms of Gloucester Abbey, three the elephant's head of Throckmorton, two the Berkeley arms, and one a Passion shield, with the inscription, 'Pax Christi inter nos sit semper.' A group of four has the inscription, 'Miseremini mei miseremini mei saltem vos amici mei quia manus Domini tetigit me,' one has the device of Robert Elyot, and there are several examples of the 'executors'' tiles, inscribed, 'Thinke mon thy liffe may not ever endure that thou dost thyself of that thou art sure but that thou keepest unto thy 'secturs care if it ever avail thee it is but a venture.' (fn. 54)
On the south side of the chancel is a marble urn monument, with arms, to Thomas Berkeley 'who went with Sir Daniel Harvey embassadour extraordinary from Charles II to Sultan Mahomet Han Emperour of the Turkes,' and died while on this mission at Megree in Greece, 25 October 1669. On the chancel floor are slabs to William Berkeley, 1658, with arms, and to Margaret his wife, 1649.
There is a ring of four bells: the treble has no inscription; the second and third, dated 1633, are by John Greene of Worcester; the tenor is a 16th-century bell, cast at Leicester, bearing the Brazyer mark, and inscribed with the alphabet in late Gothic capitals. Several letters are inverted; the lip is broken.
The communion plate consists of a chalice, two patens, and a flagon, all of the 17th century; on the flagon is the inscription, 'The gift of O. C. to D. B. and by her to the church of Cotheridge Ann. Dom. 1663,' D. B. being the initials of Dorothy Berkeley, daughter of Sir Thomas Cave of Stanford, in Northamptonshire, who married Sir Rowland Berkeley in 1635.
The church of Cotheridge was given by Osbert Fitz Hugh and his mother Eustacia de Say to the nuns at Westwood, their grant being confirmed by Henry I and subsequent kings. (fn. 55) The founders made a composition with the priory of Worcester, obtaining for Cotheridge Church the right of burial. (fn. 56)
The church was probably appropriated at an early date to the nuns of Westwood, and served by one of their chaplains, for no institutions have been found in the registers of the bishopric. In 1535 the church was returned as appropriated to the priory, the stipend of the curate being 46s. 8d. (fn. 57) A payment of 2 lb. of pepper, worth 3s. 4d. yearly, was made to the lord of Cotheridge. (fn. 58) The rectory having passed to the Crown at the Dissolution was leased for twenty-one years to Robert Acton in 1537. (fn. 59) Henry VIII granted the advowson and the reversion of the rectory, together with the rent reserved on Acton's lease, in fee to John Pakington, justice of North Wales, in 1539. (fn. 60) He settled the advowson, and apparently also the rectory, in 1542 on his nephew Thomas son of Robert Pakington. (fn. 61) Thomas, who was knighted in 1553, (fn. 62) sold the rectory and advowson in 1570 to John Habington of Hindlip. (fn. 63) The Habingtons probably sold the advowson before 1581 to Charles Acton, for Charles held it with the manor in that year, (fn. 64) and it has since followed the descent of the manor. (fn. 65) The rectory passed with Hindlip (fn. 66) to Thomas Habington, the historian of Worcestershire, (fn. 67) who sold it in 1590–1 to Henry Evett of Woodhall. (fn. 68) Henry died seised of it in 1597, (fn. 69) and his son John sold it in 1623 to William Berkeley, (fn. 70) then owner of the manor, with which it has since descended. (fn. 71)
The living of Cotheridge continued to be a curacy after the Dissolution, and in 1655 William Berkeley hired a curate at a stipend of £4. (fn. 72) Early in the 18th century and in 1742 it was said to be a vicarage, (fn. 73) but Nash speaks of it at the end of the century as a curacy, (fn. 74) and it probably actually became a vicarage under the Act of 1867–8. (fn. 75)
There appears to have been a chapel in the manor of Cotheridge, of which the lords of the manor held the advowson. This chapel is first mentioned in 1329 (fn. 76) and appears for the last time in 1559. (fn. 77)
Osbert Fitz Hugh and Eustacia his mother granted to the convent of St. Mary of Worcester the third sheaf of all the tithe of the lordship of Greater Cotheridge in return for the grant of burials to the church of Cotheridge. (fn. 78) This property remained with the priory until the Dissolution, (fn. 79) and was granted in 1542 to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, (fn. 80) and confirmed to them in 1608–9. (fn. 81) The dean and chapter made an exchange of lands and tithes in the parish of Cotheridge with Rowland Berkeley of Cotheridge in 1775. (fn. 82)
The charities, which were recorded on the church table, are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 12 November 1907, under the title of the United Charities. They include the charity of Sir Rowland Berkeley, founded by deed 31 December 1694, being a rent-charge of £6 issuing out of a meadow known as Blackmore, applicable in apprenticing; and the charities of Henry Cooke, Sir Rowland Berkeley and Richard Best, consisting of 1 a. 2 r., formerly known as Baxter's Meadow and subsequently as the Square Meadow, let at £2 a year, which is applied in the distribution of bread.