A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The village, which is situated on the main road between Bewdley and Tenbury, consists of a few houses near the church, some of half-timber and some of brick. Near the centre of the village stands the Sun Inn, a gabled brick house of the late 16th or early 17th century, two stories in height with an attic and tiled roofs. The oak stairs with moulded handrail, square newels, and flat twisted balusters are original and the central brick chimney stack is also of original date. Sodington Hall, the property of Sir Walter de Sodington Blount and the residence of Mr. Hugh Francis Blount, J.P., about half a mile south-east of the church, is an early 19th-century three-storied brick house built on the site of one pulled down in 1807. (fn. 1) It is surrounded by a moat, now dry. In the entrance hall is a panel dated 1606 and bearing a quartered shield of Blount, with the crest of the family and the motto 'Omnis caro foenum.' In the garden of the house immediately to the west of the church is preserved an iron fireback, found in an adjacent field, having on a shield a sun in splendour between three choughs, impaling a cheveron between three rams' heads erased.
The Parliamentarians in the Civil War burnt the manor-house, which had been inhabited by the Blounts since the 14th century, (fn. 2) but, even after the destruction which must then have taken place, Nash, writing late in the 18th century, was able to say: 'The house at Sodington has the appearance of formerly having been a place of some strength. . . . It is a very pleasant summer situation, on a gentle eminence, moated round, with four drawbridges.' (fn. 3) Clows Top, about 2 miles east of the church on the road to Bewdley, is partly in this parish and partly in Bayton (q.v.).
There are two collieries, Mamble Colliery and Buckets Leasow Colliery. The substratum abounds with coal of good quality. (fn. 4)
The parish has an area of 2,285 acres, of which 397 are arable land, 1,600 permanent grass and 169 woods and plantations. (fn. 5) It lies on the Coal Measures, the soil being light marl. The chief crops grown are wheat, barley, oats and fruit.
The earliest reference to MAMBLE is found in a 10th-century charter among the boundaries of Newnham and Knighton. (fn. 6) At the date of the Domesday Survey Ralph Mortimer held half a hide at Mamble. It had been previously held by Sawold, who could betake himself where he would. (fn. 7) The overlordship remained with the Mortimers of Wigmore, (fn. 8) who became Earls of March in 1328, until the earldom merged in the Crown on the accession of Edward IV. The manor was still held of the honour of Wigmore in 1611, (fn. 9) when the overlordship is mentioned for the last time.
At an early date the manor seems to have been divided into two parts. In 1232 the Abbot of Wigmore sued Robert de Wodeton for the advowson of Mamble, (fn. 10) and in the following year he was himself sued for its possession by Hugolina Mustel. (fn. 11) Both Robert and Hugolina gave up their claim to the abbot, (fn. 12) and they were probably the owners of the two moieties of the manor at that time. Robert derived his title from Eliis de Higley, who was a son of William de Higley, (fn. 13) and was living in 1194, but died without issue before 1203. His heirs were his four sisters, one of whom, Cecilia, married William de Wodeton or Witton. Robert de Wodeton mentioned above was son of Cecilia, (fn. 14) but is not again mentioned in connexion with Mamble. He left an only daughter Amice. (fn. 15) It may have been his estate which was held in 1303 by William de Shakenhurst. (fn. 16) Robert Moryn and Isolda his wife, possibly the remarried widow of William, granted the manor in 1330–1 to Walter de Shakenhurst. (fn. 17) In 1349–50 Walter de Shakenhurst settled the manor on himself, with remainder to his nephew John Meysey and Joan his wife. (fn. 18) It evidently passed under this settlement to the Meyseys, who afterwards held it with Shakenhurst (fn. 19) in Bayton (q.v.). At the partition of the Meysey estates in 1845 property in Mamble was assigned to Mary Charlotte wife of Charles Wicksted, (fn. 20) but its further descent has not been traced.
The estate at Mamble held in 1233 by Hugolina Mustel had belonged in the time of Henry II to a certain Osbert, who died without issue, and was succeeded by his sister Sigerica, to whom succeeded a son Richard, the father of Hugolina Mustel. (fn. 21) She may have been identical with Hugolina de Mamble, who in 1248–9 granted half a hide of land in Mamble to Ralph de Mamble. (fn. 22) Hugolina probably died soon after, (fn. 23) and her heir appears to have been Henry Mustel, son of Hugh and grandson of William Mustel, the son of Sigerica, and younger brother, apparently, of Hugolina's father Richard. (fn. 24) Henry sued Ralph de Mamble for his land in 1254–5, (fn. 25) but Ralph seems to have retained his property, which was possibly that held by Roger de Mamble, a contributor to the subsidy in Sodington about 1280. (fn. 26) Henry Mustel was evidently the owner of the manor in 1254. He was a knight of the shire for Gloucester in 1258, (fn. 27) and was perhaps succeeded by Hugh Mustel, who died in 1325–6 holding land in Kidderminster. (fn. 28) Nothing more is known of this estate at Mamble until 1417, when it belonged to the lords of Sodington, (fn. 29) with which manor it has since descended.
SODINGTON (Sudintuna, x cent.; Sudtune, xicent.; Sutchinton, Sutinton, Suthinton, xiii cent.; Sudyngton, xiv cent.; Syllyngton, xvi cent.) is mentioned in the boundaries of Lindridge in a 10thcentury charter. (fn. 30) In 1086 Ralph Mortimer held Sodington, (fn. 31) the principal manor in the parish of Mamble. (fn. 32) In the time of King Edward Æthelsige had held it. This manor, like Mamble, was held of the honour of Wigmore, (fn. 33) the overlordship being mentioned for the last time in 1611. (fn. 34)
Ralph Mortimer's under-tenant in 1086 was 'a knight of his,' (fn. 35) whose name is not given. No tenant is given as holding the manor under Roger Mortimer in 1210–12, (fn. 36) but Ralph de Sodington held half a knight's fee in Sodington in 1230. (fn. 37) In 1248–9 half a virgate of land in Sodington was granted to Richard de Sodington by William de Wadenhurst and Juliana his wife at a rent of 5s., (fn. 38) and in 1254–5 Ralph de Sodington held land in Mamble. (fn. 39) He died about 1274, when his son Ralph succeeded. (fn. 40) William de Sodington, who was lord of Eastham in 1292, (fn. 41) died about 1303, (fn. 42) when the manor of Sodington passed to his co-heirs, his nephew Richard, son of Reynold le Porter by his wife Mary or Marisca, sister of William de Sodington, and his sisters, Eustacia wife of William de Doverdale and Joan wife of Walter Blount. (fn. 43) At first the manor seems to have been held jointly by the co-heirs, (fn. 44) but eventually it passed to the Blounts. Walter Blount died about 1323, and appears to have been succeeded by his second son John, (fn. 45) who was lord of the manor in 1356. (fn. 46) John died in 1358, and was succeeded by his son Richard Blount, (fn. 47) who was said to be holding Sodington with William de Doverdale and Ralph son of Richard le Porter in 1360. (fn. 48) Richard Blount died without issue, and had by 1384 been succeeded by his brother Sir John Blount, (fn. 49) who died in 1425 seised of the manors of Mamble and Sodington. (fn. 50) They then passed to his grandson John, son of his son John, (fn. 51) who married in 1448 Catherine daughter and co-heir of Thomas Corbett of Stanford, (fn. 52) Shropshire, by which marriage he added a considerable fortune to his own. (fn. 53) He made a settlement of the manor in 1458. (fn. 54) His will is dated 1478, (fn. 55) and he must have been dead before 1495, when his widow Catherine claimed a third of the manor in dower against his son Edward. (fn. 56) Edward married Joan Lady Ferrers, widow of Sir Walter Devereux, Lord Ferrers, on whom he settled the manor, but died childless, being then Knight of the Body to Henry VII, on 6 July 1499. (fn. 57) With his parents and brothers and sisters he is commemorated by a brass in the chancel of Mamble Church, described by Habington. (fn. 58) His brother Peter, who succeeded him, and who had married Anne daughter of Sir Edmund Cornwall of Burford, left Sodington by his will dated 1518 to her until his son should attain the age of twenty-four. (fn. 59) Thomas Blount, his son and successor, (fn. 60) married firstly Catherine daughter of Thomas Stanford, and secondly Joyce daughter of Thomas Shirley of Enfield Chase, (fn. 61) whose name appears also as Joyce Habington. (fn. 62) He died on 20 December 1564, (fn. 63) and was succeeded by Walter Blount, his son by his first wife. (fn. 64) Walter Blount married firstly Catherine Grey of Enville, co. Stafford, and secondly Margaret daughter of John Talbot of Grafton, (fn. 65) but died childless on 7 September 1590. (fn. 66) He was succeeded by his half-brother Sir George Blount, (fn. 67) who in the following year settled the manor on Eleanor daughter of William Norwood, whom he afterwards married. (fn. 68) Sir George Blount died in 1611, and was succeeded by his son Walter, (fn. 69) who married Elizabeth daughter of George Wylde of Droitwich, serjeant-at-law. (fn. 70) Walter Blount was Sheriff of Worcestershire 1619–20 and M.P. for Droitwich 1624–5. (fn. 71) The Blounts were notable for their faithful adherence to the Roman Catholic faith, (fn. 72) and they gave the most zealous support to the Crown in the Civil War. Walter Blount, who was created a baronet in 1642, (fn. 73) fought for the king, as did his four sons and three brothers. He was taken prisoner at Hereford in December 1645, and suffered imprisonment at Oxford and afterwards in the Tower of London. He was heavily fincd as a Papist delinquent. (fn. 74) Mamble Manor, by which Sodington is probably meant, was bought from the treason trustees by Peter and Thomas Powis and discharged from sequestration on 13 July 1653. (fn. 75) Walter Blount died at Blagdon, co. Devon, in 1654. His widow died at Mawley Hall, co. Salop, and is buried at Mamble. (fn. 76) His son George, second baronet, who recovered the manor at the Restoration, married Mary daughter and heir of Richard Kirkham of Blagdon, and died at Mawley Hall in 1667, (fn. 77) when he was succeeded by his son Sir Walter Kirkham Blount, third baronet, who was appointed sheriff on 5 December 1687. (fn. 78) Sir Walter translated 'The Office of the Holy Week,' printed at Paris in 1670. He married, firstly, Alicia daughter of Sir Thomas Strickland of Sizergh, Westmorland, and, secondly, Mary daughter of Sir Caesar Cranmer alias Wood, and died childless at Ghent in 1717. (fn. 79) He was succeeded by his nephew, Sir Edward Blount, fourth baronet, son of his brother George Blount of Mawley Hall by Constantia, his second wife, daughter of Sir George Carey of Torr Abbey, Devon. (fn. 80) Sir Edward married Apollonia daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton, third baronet, and died on 16 February 1758. His son Edward, fifth baronet, who had been dealing with the manor in 1746, (fn. 81) succeeded him, (fn. 82) and married Frances daughter and heir of William Molyneux of Mossborough Hall (Lancs.), dying childless on 19 October 1765. His brother Walter, who succeeded, had been educated at Douay College. He married Mary daughter and coheir of James fifth Lord Aston and died on 5 October 1785. (fn. 83) His son and successor Walter, seventh baronet, who married Anne daughter of Thomas Riddell of Felton Park and Swinburne Castle, Northumberland, was dealing with the manor in 1795 (fn. 84) and died in 1803, when he was followed by his son Edward, eighth baronet, who married his cousin Mary Frances daughter of Edward Blount, second brother of the seventh baronet. He was dealing with the manor in 1816, (fn. 85) was sheriff in 1835, and died in 1881. His son Sir Walter de Sodington Blount, ninth baronet, who married in 1874 Elizabeth Anne Mould Williams, is now lord of the manor. (fn. 86)
A mill in Mamble was held by Henry Mustel in 1254–5, (fn. 87) but there is no mill at the present day.
The church of ST. JOHN BAPTIST consists of a chancel measuring internally 28 ft. by 17 ft. 3 in., north chapel 28 ft. 7 in. by 15 ft., nave 53 ft. by 19 ft. 9 in., with a timber bell-turret rising from the west end, south aisle measuring with the organ chamber 47 ft. 2 in. by 12 ft. 6 in., and south porch.
The chancel and nave appear to date from the early years of the 13th century, but the south arcade is probably a little later. Early in the 14th century the south aisle seems to have been widened and some new windows inserted in the chancel and nave. The lower portion of the framing of the timber bell-turret is probably of this date, or perhaps earlier. Early in the reign of Elizabeth the mortuary chapel of the Blounts was added on the north side of the chancel. In 1880 the church was restored and the traceried windows of the 14th century reduced to a uniform modernity. At the same time the south aisle was extended eastwards to form an organ chamber and vestry opening out of the chancel.
The chancel is lighted from the east by a modern three-light window designed in the style of the early 14th century. The sole feature in the north wall is the plastered four-centred arch opening into the Blount chapel. At the east end of the south wall are two original early 13th-century lancets with widely splayed internal jambs and square external rebates for glass frames. To the west of these is an arch opening into the modern vestry and organ chamber. The chancel arch is a fine example of the transitional work of the first years of the 13th century. It is twocentred and of two orders, the inner moulded with a double roll separated by a bold square fillet, and the outer chamfered on the chancel face and roll-moulded on the nave face, where there is a grooved and chamfered label with head-stops. The inner order is carried by filleted semicircular shafts, with foliated capitals of a rudimentary character and grooved and chamfered abaci continued round the responds and back to the side walls of both chancel and nave. Their Attic bases approximate to the water-holding type. The jambs of the outer orders have large angle rolls without capitals. The walling is of sandstone rubble, much renewed, with dressings of the stone material. On the south are two restored 14thcentury buttresses, each of a single offset.
The Blount chapel, the floor of which is two steps above the chancel floor, is perfectly plain internally, having a flat plastered ceiling and plastered walls. There are two windows, one in the north wall and one in the east, both insertions of the late 18th century. The walling is of red brick, with blue brick diapering, much disturbed by refacing in the 18th century. At the north-west is visible externally a blocked window of the original date.
The west end of the nave is occupied by the timber framing of the bell-turret and is divided from the rest of the building by a half-timbered partition. In the north wall of the eastern portion are two windows with two-centred heads and modern tracery, both probably modernized 14th-century openings. To the west of these is a blocked doorway of the same date with a plain chamfered two-centred external head, continuously moulded jambs, and a segmental rear arch. The early 13th-century south arcade is of three bays with two-centred arches of two orders, the outer plain and the inner chamfered, supported by circular columns, with plain bell capitals, grooved and chamfered abaci, and moulded bases of the same section as those of the responds of the chancel arch. The east and west responds have semicircular shafts supporting the inner orders, the abacus of the eastern shaft being a continuation of the abacus of the south respond of the chancel arch. The lowest stage of the partition cutting off the west end of the nave has a doorway near the centre with a grille on either side formed by a row of mullion-like chamfered rails, the panels beneath being filled with oak boarding. At the level of the head of the doorway is a projecting gallery, dating probably from the 17th century, which has lost its front. The upper panels of the partition have wattle and daub filling. The floor of the western portion of the nave, which serves as the ringing chamber, is raised four steps above the general floor level. On the north and west are lancets of the original early 13th-century date and at the south-west is a modern doorway. The walling of the nave, like that of the chancel, is of sandstone rubble and has been much renewed at the north-east. To the east of the north-west window is a modern buttress of two offsets, while at the western angles are original clasping buttresses of shallow projection, crowned by plain gablets.
At the south-east of the original portion of the 14th-century south aisle is a piscina with a trefoiled ogee head and a curiously large square basin, the projecting portion of which has been cut away. The two windows in the south wall are modern restorations, though the openings are probably original. To the west of these is the south doorway, which has a two-centred external head moulded with sunk quarterrounds, and a segmental rear arch. Between the two windows is a fine tomb recess of original early 14th-century date, having a two-centred head, originally cinquefoiled, inclosed within a crocketed and finialled gable, and flanked by plain pinnacled pilasters. The walling is of the same material as that of the rest of the church and has been practically refaced in modern times. There are restored buttresses of two offsets between the windows and at the east and west ends of the south aisle.
The lower part of the timber bell-turret is a magnificent example of early 14th-century carpentry. The massive corner posts of oak, measuring about 1 ft. 1 in. square, rise each in one piece to near the apex of the nave roof, and are braced by a system of cross-struts halved together at their intersections. The structure is also strutted from the side and west walls of the nave, the latter of which shows a tendency to be thrust outwards, the shallow clasping buttresses at the angles being insufficient to counteract the thrust. The upper part of the turret, the framing of which has been much restored, is covered with oak shingles and is surmounted by an octagonal broach spire.
The font is of original early 13th-century date and has a plain straight-sided circular bowl standing on a moulded stem of the same form. In the east window of the chancel is a piece of 14th-century glass representing the Crucifixion. The colouring is in an excellent state of preservation. The background is formed of blue diapered lozenges divided from each other by bands of red glass, and the whole composition is framed by side pilasters of the normal type supporting a gabled and crocketed canopy. In the uppermost light of the same window is a small piece of plain glass, probably of the same date, painted with black and yellow foliage.
At the north-east corner of the chancel is a late 13th-century effigy of a knight. In the floor is a slab with the brass figures of a man and his wife, the former wearing plate armour of the early 16th century. The inscription is now missing, but according to Habington the brass appears to be that of John Blount, Catherine his wife, and their son Edward, knight to the body of Henry VII. At the north-east of the Blount chapel is an elaborate table tomb upon which reclines, in place of an effigy, a full-sized human skeleton. Above is a canopy supported by Corinthian columns, and at the back of the portion beneath the canopy are inscriptions commemorating Thomas Blount of Sodington, who died in 1561; Walter Blount, his son, who died in 1590; George Blount, brother and heir of the preceding Walter, who died in 1610–11, and his wife Eleanor, who died in 1624; Walter Blount, son and heir of George Blount, created a baronet by Charles I, who died in 1654 at Blagdon in Devonshire, and was buried at Paignton, in that county, and his wife Elizabeth, who died in 1656; and, lastly, George Blount, baronet, their son and heir, who died in 1667. On the walls and in the floor are many other tablets and slabs to later members of the family.
The tower contains a ring of three bells. The treble is dated 1634, and the second was recast by W. Blews & Sons of Birmingham in 1874; the tenor is a 15th-century bell bearing the inscription in black letter capitals, 'Sancta Margareta ora pro nobis,' and a square stamp with four fleurs de lis placed saltirewise with ermine tails between them. There is also a small call-bell inscribed 'I.H. C.W. 1656.'
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1586 to 1612; (ii) 1678 to 1689; (iii) 1692 to 1737; (iv) baptisms and burials 1737 to 1797, marriages 1737 to 1755; (v) baptisms and burials 1797 to 1814; (vi) marriages 1755 to 1812.
The church is first mentioned in 1231–2, when the advowson was granted to the Abbot of Wigmore by Robert de Wodeton and Hugolina Mustel. (fn. 88) The church was probably appropriated to the abbey shortly after this time, for in 1291 it was so appropriated, the vicar's portion being then less than £4. (fn. 89) The advowson and rectory remained with the abbey until the Dissolution, (fn. 90) and the advowson has since remained in the Crown. (fn. 91) The Blounts of Sodington have been impropriators of Mamble since the middle of the 19th century. (fn. 92)
The vicarage was united with Bayton in 1669. (fn. 93)
A chantry had been founded at Mamble before 1277 (fn. 94) for the soul of 'Dame Huweline,' evidently Hugolina Mustel mentioned above as an owner of the manor. Roger Folliott presented to this chantry in 1315, (fn. 95) but it is not again mentioned, and must have disappeared before 1535, as it is not returned among the Worcestershire chantries at that date.
Land given for the maintenance of two lights at Mamble was confiscated by the Crown at the Dissolution. (fn. 96)
In 1875 the Rev. David Davies, by his will proved at Worcester 19 January, bequeathed a sum of £104 14s. 10d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £2 12s. 4d., to be distributed in clothing, on the first Sunday in November immediately after divine worship, amongst Protestant poor.