A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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Caldeslei (xi cent.); Scheldesley, Sildeley, Sceldesley Waleys (xiii cent.); Scheldesley, Scheldeslegh, Sheldesle Wales (xiv cent.); Sheldesley Waleys, Shellesley (xv cent.); Sheldesley Walsh, Shellesley Gildon, or Gyldon (xvi cent.); Shelsley, Sheldesley Welch, Little Shelsley (xvii cent.).
Shelsley Walsh is a small scattered parish containing some 17th-century half-timber cottages. The church stands a little to the west of the Stanford road. The Court House, now the residence of Mr. William Walker, formerly the home of the Walshes, from whom the parish takes its name, lies immediately west of the church. It is a half-timber and brick house, probably of the late 16th century, with 18th-century and later alterations, and modern brick additions on the east and south. The interior, which has been modernized, contains some early 17th-century oak panelling in one of the western ground floor apartments. According to tradition it was once haunted by the ghost of a Lady Lightfoot, who was imprisoned and murdered in the house. (fn. 1) To the north of the church is a halftimber and plaster two-story house with thatched roofs, said to be the former rectory.
The ground is 500 ft. above the ordnance datum in the south-west of the parish, but falls in the north and east to the valley of the Teme, which forms its eastern boundary, the land along its banks being liable to floods.
It has an area of 495 acres, of which more than half is permanent grass, rather less than a third is arable, and there are 82 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 2) The soil, which is very rich, is light loam and clay, the subsoil Old Red Sandstone with alluvium near the river. The chief crops grown are wheat, hops and fruit. The woodland lies principally to the south and west.
Before the Conquest SHELSLEY was held by a certain Simon under grant from the monks of Worcester, to whom he rendered the appointed service, until the 'French' arrived and seized his property. (fn. 3) He is clearly identical with the Simon who, in the Survey, is described as a thegn of Earl Eadwine, and as having held Shelsley in the time of King Edward. (fn. 4) In 1086 Shelsley was included among the lands of Osbern Fitz Richard, and the manor became part of the honour of Richard's Castle, (fn. 5) the overlordship being mentioned for the last time in 1540. (fn. 6)
The family which gave its second name to Shelsley Walsh appeared there as early as 1211–12, when John Walshe (Walensis) was holding half a fee in Shelsley. (fn. 7) John Walshe, probably the same man, seems to have forfeited his land in 1216, when it was granted to William de Fifield. (fn. 8) In 1225–6 John Walshe acquired of Henry son of Ingram a messuage and land in Shelsley. (fn. 9) Joan Walshe was holding the manor in 1235, and must have been succeeded shortly after by John Walshe. (fn. 10) Henry Walshe contributed 1 mark to the subsidy about 1280, (fn. 11) and was holding the manor as half a knight's fee in 1287. (fn. 12) He died about 1308, (fn. 13) and was followed by his son William, who in 1311 obtained a grant of free warren in all his demesne lands of Shelsley and Clifton. (fn. 14) William presented to the church in 1313. (fn. 15) The manor was settled in 1325–6 (fn. 16) on Henry Walshe and Mary his wife, and Henry contributed to the subsidy in 1327 and again in 1332–3. (fn. 17)
In 1346 Henry de Hughley was holding the manor. (fn. 18) His relationship to the Walshes is not known, but he appears with the two brothers Henry and Percival (fn. 19) Walshe in 1349 among certain wrongdoers who broke into the park at Abberiey. (fn. 20) A certain Margaret de Shelsley presented to the church in 1361, (fn. 21) and was probably then in possession of the manor, as John de Peyto, who presented in 1370, (fn. 22) may also have been. In 1382, however, John Walshe died seised of the manor, (fn. 23) leaving an infant son Richard, (fn. 24) who died in the following year, his heir being his father's brother Thomas. (fn. 25) Thomas Walshe was still holding the manor in 1418, when he presented to the church, (fn. 26) but had been succeeded before 1428 by John Walshe. (fn. 27) John Walshe, grandson of this John and son of Richard Walshe, (fn. 28) died seised of the manor in 1510, and was succeeded by his son John. (fn. 29) John bequeathed the manor to his wife Alice for seven years for the 'setting forth' of his daughter, and died in 1541, when his son Francis succeeded, (fn. 30) having livery of the manor in 1546. (fn. 31) He married Anne daughter of Richard Cornwall of Burford, (fn. 32) and died 19 July 1596. (fn. 33) He was succeeded by his son Sir Richard Walshe, (fn. 34) high sheriff at the time of the Gunpowder Plot, who was very active in apprehending the offenders. (fn. 35) He died between 1606 (fn. 36) and 1615, (fn. 37) leaving two daughters, Anne wife of Sir Thomas Bromley of Shrawardine Castle, co. Salop, and Joyce, wife of Sir Roland Cotton of Alkington, co. Salop. (fn. 38) The manor was conveyed to Humphrey Salwey by Sir Thomas Bromley and Ann in 1616 (fn. 39) and by Sir Roland Cotton and Joyce his wife in 1618. (fn. 40) Humphrey was perhaps acting as trustee for his brother-in-law, Sir Edward Littleton of Pillaton, co. Staff., (fn. 41) who settled the manor in 1626 (fn. 42) on his son Edward and his bride, Hester daughter of Sir William Courteen. (fn. 43) Sir Edward died seised of the manor in 1629, and was succeeded by this son Edward, (fn. 44) who had been created a baronet in 1627. (fn. 45) Sir Edward Littleton conveyed the manor in 1651, he being then a delinquent, to Samuel Baldwyn and Richard Walcott. (fn. 46) In 1652 Major Edward Smith claimed half the manor, while the chief messuage was claimed by Francis Nevill of Chevet, co. York. (fn. 47) The manor was sold by the Treason Trustees in 1653 to Richard Knightley of Fawsley, co. Northants, and Richard Salwey of Westminster. (fn. 48) In 1654, however, Sir Edward Littleton and his wife Catherine and son Edward sold the manor to Thomas Foley. (fn. 49) It then descended with Great Witley (q.v.), until the Foley estates were sold about the middle of the 19th century, when it passed with the Great Witley estate to Lord Ward. (fn. 50) The manor was sold about 1890 by the Earl of Dudley to Mr. Montagu C. H. Taylor, who in 1912 sold it to Sir Francis Salwey Winnington of Stanford Court, the present owner. (fn. 51)
At the date of the Domesday Survey the manor contained a fishery rendering 16 stiches of eels. (fn. 52)
A water-mill (fn. 53) belonged to the manor in 1308, and the rector received tithes from a mill in 1535. (fn. 54) This mill is again mentioned in 1631, (fn. 55) and in 1654 there were three water-mills in the parish. (fn. 56) New Mill Bridge evidently marks the site of a former mill, but there is now no mill here.
In 1653 the iron forge upon the River Teme in Little Shelsley and a parcel of ground called the Coal Yard were sold with the manor to Richard Knightley of Fawsley and Richard Salwey. (fn. 57) This mill and a forge still existed in 1779, (fn. 58) and the site is now marked by Forgemill Farm, in the south-eastern corner of the parish.
The church of ST. ANDREW consists of a chancel measuring internally 21 ft. 9 in. by 17 ft. 6 in., nave 32 ft. by 16 ft., south porch and timber bellcote at the west end of the nave roof. The walls are of tufa with sandstone dressings, and are faced on both sides. The roof is covered with tiles.
The nave dates from the early part of the 12th century, but the north doorway is an insertion of about 1160, when a wide window was opened out in the south wall and probably the original south doorway was blocked. The present chancel was built early in the 13th century, windows being opened at the west end of the nave at the same period. Late in the 15th century the beautiful oak screens which divide the chancel from the nave, and inclose a chapel at the south-east corner of the latter, were constructed. The church was thoroughly restored in 1859, and the porch is modern.
The chancel has an east window of three pointed lights with a rear arch enriched with a filleted edge roll. In the north wall is a twin lancet window with a single rear arch, and in the south wall is a similar window with a single lancet further to the west. These all have modern external stonework, but the internal jambs and two-centred drop rear arches are of the early 13th century. At the south-east is an early 13th-century piscina with a trefoiled head and a filleted edge roll, a projecting sill moulded with a bead and dog-tooth, and a quatrefoil bowl.
The chancel screen forms the only division between the chancel and nave. In the north wall are three single lights, all of which have modern stonework externally; the two eastern, which have semicircular heads and rear arches, probably date from the early 12th century, while the westernmost window is 13thcentury lancet with a modern rear arch but original internal jambs. The north doorway, between this lancet and the other windows, has a semicircular head of a single order enriched with cheveron moulding, quirked and splayed label and abaci, and jamb shafts with scalloped capitals and moulded bases with angle enrichments. The tympanum is plain, but slightly recessed as if for some form of applied decoration, and, like the jambs, is of tufa, while the other parts of the doorway are of sandstone; the shafts are modern. At the east end of the south wall is a twin lancet under a single slightly pointed rear arch; the outer stonework is modern, but the internal jambs and rear arch date from about 1160. To the west of this is a very narrow semicircular-headed light of the early 12th century, and below it can be seen the lines of a blocked opening, probably a doorway; at the west end of the wall is a lancet similar in all respects to the opposite window in the north wall. The west window, which is of two modern pointed lights with a circular cusped piercing above, has an old drop rear arch and jambs, probably of the early 13th century.
The open timber roof over the chancel is supported by three heavy trusses with old beams, and over the nave is an open trussed rafter roof, probably of the late 14th or early 15th century, with modern matchboarding. The font has an early 12th-century circular bowl of sandstone; it is plain and somewhat cuplike in shape, and has a modern moulded base. The oak pulpit is modern. Between the chancel and nave there is a fine oak screen of the late 15th century with linen-fold lower panels, moulded posts, traceried upper lights and a moulded cornice with beautifully carved vine-leaf ornament. Above it is a moulded rood-beam of the same date with a double row of vine-leaf ornament, also finely carved and with deep hollows behind; the cross on the beam is modern. At the south-east of the nave the screenwork is carried west from the rood screen, and returned to the south wall so as to inclose a rectangular space measuring internally about 9 ft. by 6 ft. This parclose screen is of the same character and date as the rood screen, and the space inclosed was probably a chantry chapel, as the part of the rood screen inclosed by it is left rough, and provision seems to have been made here for an altar. The oak north door with its heavy oak lock is mediaeval, but has been repaired. In the jambs of the doorway are holes for an oak bar. The central portion of the chancel floor is laid with 15th-century encaustic tiles set in designs consisting of groups of sixteen and four tiles, each group being complete in itself. Most of these are in geometrical patterns; one group has a circle of grotesque animals, and another a black-letter inscription in Latin of which 'Deo gratias' is decipherable, but the rest is indistinct.
On the chancel floor, in the south-east corner, is a grave slab which dates probably from the 14th century. It has an incised calvary cross, with a zigzag halo at the head and a pentagram in the centre of the cross, the stone being sunk between the enrichments so as to leave them in relief. At the northeast of the chancel is a painted wood rectangular tomb with a flat sunk top, having a moulded edge inscribed both on the inside and outside, and a panelled face with painted shields on the south and west, the other sides being against the walls. The inscription is as follows: 'Heere lieth Fraunces Wallsh esquire sonne and heire to John Wallsh esquire and Allice the daughter of Cristepher Baynham knight which Francis married Anne the daughter of Richard Cornewhall barron of Barford and had issue 3 sonns and 6 daughters and departed this mortale lif the 19 of July in the year of our Lord God anno Domini 1596.' The shield on the west side has evidently been repainted; it represents Walshe with five quarterings, with the crest, a griffon's head razed and the motto 'Veritaset Virtus Vicinae.' On the south side of the tomb the westernmost shield is Walshe quartering Warde, impaling Blount quartering Sodington. The next shield is Walshe and Warde impaling Cornwall; and the last Walshe and Warde impaling Baynham.
In 1291 the church was taxed at £4 6s. 8d., and portions were paid to the Prior of Wotton and the Prior of Newent. (fn. 61) In 1535 an annual pension of 3s. was paid to the church of Clifton upon Teme. (fn. 62) In 1655 the rectory, with house, glebe and tithe, was valued at £17 10s., and it was suggested that it should be united with Clifton. (fn. 63)