A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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STOKE BLISS with KYRE PARVA
Stoke (xii cent.); Stoke Blees, Stoke de Blez (xiv cent.).
Stoke Bliss was formerly chiefly in the Herefordshire Hundred of Broxash, the hamlet of Kyre Parva only being in Doddingtree Hundred. The whole parish was transferred to Worcestershire in 1897. (fn. 1) It consists of two parts, divided by the hamlet of Kyre Parva, and is watered by the Kyre Brook and Perry Brook. The road from Tenbury to Bromyard runs through the parish.
The ground lies high, Stoke Hill on the eastern boundary being 700 ft. above the ordnance datum, and near Garmsley Camp in the west the same height is reached.
The village contains several 17th-century half-timber cottages and farm-houses. The church stands about 6½ miles south-east of Tenbury. Opposite it on the east is the Church House Farm, a picturesque halftimber and stone 17th-century house of two stories with dormers and a tiled roof.
Banwalls, about three-quarters of a mile north-west of the church, belonging to Mrs. Baldwyn-Childe, is a two-storied farm-house of brick and stone of the 18th century, with some half-timber work from a much older building re-used in some parts of the walling. An inclosed moated are immediately to the west of the house is probably the site of this earlier dwelling.
The Perrie Farm, the residence of Sir Edward Pytts' family before he rebuilt Kyre Park, stands at the west of the parish about half a mile south of Kyre Park. It is an early 16th-century two-storied house of halftimber on a stone base with tiled roofs, and is built on an L-shaped plan with the living apartments on the east and the kitchen on the west. The interior has been considerably altered, but the hall retains good oak moulded ceiling beams. There are three pools round the house; those on the north and west are probably the remains of a surrounding moat.
The Hyde (fn. 2), which is situated at a completely isolated spot about 2 miles west of the church, is a stone house of the 14th century, much altered late in the 16th or early in the 17th century, when, according to an old drawing, much half-timbering was used, and again altered in the 19th century. Through all these vicissitudes, however, the house has retained its original plan of a central hall 34 ft. 9 in. by 19 ft. 9 in., with the solar and undercroft on the south, at right angles to it, 28 ft. 8 in. by 13 ft. 1 in., and the kitchen on the north. These rooms have been subdivided and partitioned, but the upper parts of the roofs of both the hall and solar remain almost intact, and are particularly fine examples of 14th-century open-timber roofs. The hall, which is now divided into two stages, was a single-storied apartment of the same height as the solar with its undercroft, and had a magnificent oak trussed roof divided into four bays by one principal, and two subsidiary, moulded arched trusses. Of this roof all the upper parts with the wind braces remain, and, being constructed of heavy timbers, are in good condition, but, with the exception of the central one on the west side, all the responds have disappeared, and the lower parts of the arches above them have been cut away to obtain more space in the later upper apartment. A rectangular chimney stack of about 1600, with a wide fireplace, now occupies the second bay from the north, dividing the hall laterally into two parts. The roof over the solar, which is also of moulded timbers with arched and cusped wind braces, has not suffered so severely as that of the hall, since the present division of solar and undercroft is original. The two trusses dividing the apartment into three bays have tie-beams with moulded braces below them, and were originally braced above, but the upper braces have been removed, probably in the late 16th century, when a floor was constructed at the level of the beams, thus forming an attic. The solar is now partitioned below the trusses, and is approached by a 17th-century stairway on the west, and by a doorway from the room in the upper part of the hall, the stairway being continued to the attic. There is some 17th-century panelling in the solar near the stairway, and some of the late 16th century in the lower part of the hall. The porch and entrance doorway are modern, but the doorway entering directly into the hall probably occupies its original position. Some 14th-century oak window tracery, which retains some fragments of the original leaded glass, is used as a fanlight over the door. On the east side of the house is a fine 17th-century half-timber barn with a tiled roof, and on the west there is an old well. A long strip of land between the Hyde and the church bears the name of Prioress Meadow and another portion to the north of the house is called St. Flechers Chapel Field.
Garmsley Camp or 'the Wrathes' is an ancient stronghold which occupies a commanding position on high ground three-quarters of a mile west of the Hyde. (fn. 3) Garmsley Farm, to the west of the camp, is a small rectangular half-timber house of two stories with a tiled roof, and dates probably from the early 16th century, but was repaired and refronted in brick and stone in the 18th century. There are two rooms on the ground floor, the kitchen on the east with a wide fireplace, and the parlour on the west above an 18th-century cellar. The parlour has two original moulded ceiling beams, the stops on which are formed by the mouldings converging to a point.
The soil is loamy clay, the subsoil Old Red Sandstone. The chief crops are wheat, beans, peas, hops and apples. In a lease of the Perrie dated 1659 special reference was made to the hopyards. (fn. 4) The area is 1,163 acres in Stoke Bliss, 900 acres in Kyre Parva, the land being chiefly permanent grass. (fn. 5) There are disused quarries in the south-west.
Among place names found in the parish are Doriebruggesfield, Sakhulle, Grethulle, Wessbroke, Stapilacre, Sceldregge (xiv cent.) (fn. 6); Flecherplot and Blackwebbe (xv cent.) (fn. 7); the Poole, Mylnehurst and Comball (xvi cent.); the Norgates, New House, Over House, Brick House and Sweet Green (xvii cent.). (fn. 8)
STOKE BLISS is evidently to be identified with the hide of land at 'Stoch' which Grifin son of Mariadoc held in 1086 as successor to Godric. (fn. 9) The estate afterwards became part of the honour of Radnor which passed about 1230 from the Braose to the Mortimer family by the marriage of Roger Mortimer with Maud daughter and co-heir of William de Braose. (fn. 10) The manor was held of this honour, which passed to the crown on the accession of Edward IV, until the 16th century. (fn. 11)
Stoke Bliss was probably part of the fee (fn. 12) held in 1211–12 of the honour of Radnor by William de Bliss (Bledis), (fn. 13) who had paid a fine of 2 marks in 1176 for trespass in the forests of Herefordshire. (fn. 14) William or a descendant of the same name was dispossessed of all his lands in 1231, (fn. 15) but he had evidently been restored before 1234–5. (fn. 16) He was succeeded by a son Hugh (fn. 17) who was pardoned in 1253 for the death of William Corbin. (fn. 18) In 1262 Hugh gave rents from his tenants, and a messuage at Stoke Bliss to Lady Catherine de Lacy, who transferred her interest to the priory of Aconbury (co. Heref.). (fn. 19) Hugh was holding land in Kyre Parva until 1305 or later, (fn. 20) but the manor of Stoke Bliss must have passed before this time to the Frenes, for towards the end of the 13th century Ralph de Frene and his wife Isabel granted it to Edmund Mortimer. (fn. 21)
Edmund seems to have been holding the manor in demesne in 1303, (fn. 22) but in the inquisition taken at his death a year later the half fee at Stoke Bliss was said to be held by Margaret Banwall. (fn. 23) Margaret widow of Edmund Mortimer was holding Stoke Bliss in 1316. (fn. 24) It is not known how long the Mortimers held the manor in demesne, and in 1361 half a fee in Stoke Bliss held by Henry Turberville was delivered to Philippa widow of Roger Earl of March. (fn. 25) Henry Turberville was returned as tenant of this half fee until 1425, (fn. 26) but he had probably ceased to hold it before that date. The half fee was returned in 1431 as in the hands of the king on account of the minority of Richard Duke of York, (fn. 27) but in the following year Thomas ap Philip Vaughan died seised of the manor of Stoke Bliss, which then passed to his son William ap Thomas. (fn. 28) William settled it on his wife Agnes in 1434, (fn. 29) and died in 1437, (fn. 30) leaving a son John, two years of age. It seems possible that this John assumed the name Herle, the maiden name of his grandmother Margaret wife of Thomas Vaughan, (fn. 31) for in 1511 John Herle died seised of the manor, leaving a son George. (fn. 32) In 1512 George died and was succeeded by a brother Thomas, (fn. 33) on whose death in 1521 the manor passed to John his son. (fn. 34) John Herle sold it in 1556 to Thomas Baskerville. (fn. 35) In 1572 Thomas Baskerville settled it on his illegitimate son Thomas Baskerville of Netherwood, (fn. 36) who succeeded him in 1577 (fn. 37) and mortgaged the manor in 1585 to Edward Pytts. (fn. 38) Thomas was succeeded by a son John, who died in 1602. (fn. 39) His son Thomas obtained livery of the manor in 1622, (fn. 40) but the actual possession had passed before this time to Edward Pytts, as the mortgage of 1585 had never been redeemed, (fn. 41) and the manor has since followed the descent of Kyre Wyard, (fn. 42) Mrs. Baldwyn-Childe being the present owner.
The site of the manor during the 17th century seems to have followed a different descent. In 1625 Edward Broad of Dunclent leased it for ninety-nine years, after the death of Frances wife of Richard Turville, to Philip Awbrey of Stockton, (fn. 43) who conveyed it in 1626 to Thomas Heming. (fn. 44) George Heming sold the site in 1639 to Thomas Wich, (fn. 45) and in 1722 another Thomas Wich sold it to Samuel Pytts of Kyre Wyard. (fn. 46)
The manor of KETTLES KYRE (Keteles Cure, xiii cent.; Parva Kyer alias Kettles Cure, xvi cent.) was held of the manor of Eastham. (fn. 47) It may have originated in land granted by Roger son of Samson of Eastham to Henry Ketel by an undated 13thcentury charter. (fn. 48) Henry granted part of his land to Peter de Dunnesdon, (fn. 49) and the rest passed to his daughter Juliana wife of Adam Wele, who sold it to Adam son of Hugh de la Hill. (fn. 50) The latter gave his estate to Hugh Donville, who gave it to Sir William Mortimer, rector of Eastham and canon of Hereford, (fn. 51) Juliana confirming the transaction. (fn. 52) William Mortimer gave the estate to Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells, (fn. 53) who died seised of it in 1291, (fn. 54) when his nephew Philip succeeded. Philip was unsuccessfully sued in 1292–3 for the estate, which then consisted of a messuage, a carucate of land, 3 acres of wood and rent, by Richard Baret, grandson of Henry Ketel. (fn. 55) The estate passed on Philip's death to his son Edward, (fn. 56) and had become part of Kyre Parva manor (fn. 57) before 1585 when it was mortgaged by Thomas Baskerville to Edward Pytts. (fn. 58)
An estate called HULL in Kyre Parva (fn. 59) seems to have followed the descent of Hanley Child during the 16th century, (fn. 60) passing from the Crofts to the Hackluits, for John Croft leased his 'Hall Place of Little Kyre' to John Borrall in 1528, (fn. 61) and in 1564 Thomas Hackluit settled it on himself and his wife Fortune. (fn. 62) They sold it in 1569–70 to Thomas Baskerville, (fn. 63) and it has probably since descended with Stoke Bliss. (fn. 64)
The capital messuage known as the Hull belonged in the 18th century to the Lingens. (fn. 65)
The manor of KYRE PARVA (Cures, xiii cent.) seems in early times to have been held of the lords of Stoke Bliss, for in 1234–5 William de Bliss agreed with Osbert de Cures that Osbert should do the service of one-eighth of a knight's fee for land which he held of William in Kyre, and should find a third of the cost of maintenance of two serjeants doing castle ward at Brecknock for fifteen days. (fn. 66) Ralph de Frene, who succeeded as lord of Stoke Bliss, granted to Edmund Mortimer the services of Hugh de Bliss of Kyre Parva, (fn. 67) but the manor was held in the 14th century of the Beauchamps of Elmley, (fn. 68), and they retained the overlordship until the 15th century. (fn. 69) In 1603 the manor was said to be held of the manor of Bulford, co. Wilts. (fn. 70)
Hugh de Bliss still held land at Kyre Parva in 1307, (fn. 71) but before 1315 the manor had passed to Roger Mortimer. (fn. 72) In 1346 a quarter of a fee in Kyre formerly held by Hugh de Bliss was in the possession of John de la Hyde. (fn. 73) It remained with this family until 1459 or later. (fn. 74) In 1540 John Combes was dealing with a manor of Kyre Parva, (fn. 75), which he conveyed in 1557–8 to Thomas Baskerville, (fn. 76) but in 1557 Roger Acton and his wife Iseult (fn. 77) sold a manor called Kyre Parva to Thomas Hackluit, (fn. 78) who immediately conveyed it to Sir Andrew Corbett and others. (fn. 79) The estate at Kyre Parva acquired by Thomas Baskerville became united with the manor of Kettles Kyre, and was mortgaged in 1585 by Thomas Baskerville to Edward Pytts as 'the manor of Parva Kyer alias Kettles Cure.' It has since descended with the manor of Stoke Bliss. (fn. 80)
The manor of BANWALLS (Banewall, xv cent.) was held in 1432 of Richard Cornwall. (fn. 81) Since much of the property held by Osbern Fitz Richard in 1086 afterwards passed to the Cornwalls, it seems possible that Banwalls may have been the estate of one hide at Kyre held under Osbern by Herbert in 1086. (fn. 82) The Banwalls first appear at Kyre at the end of the 13th century, when John de Banwall granted land there to Edmund Mortimer. (fn. 83) In 1303 Margaret Banwall was holding the manor of Stoke Bliss, (fn. 84) and the name Banwall occurs until 1353. (fn. 85) The manor of Banwalls, however, probably followed the descent of that of Stoke Bliss, for Thomas ap Philip Vaughan died seised of it in 1432, (fn. 86) and its subsequent descent is identical with that of Stoke Bliss (q.v.). (fn. 87)
Henry Ketel appears to have had a mill on his estate at Kyre, (fn. 90) and it was probably this mill which Philip Burnell was holding at his death in 1294. (fn. 91) The water-mill at Kyre Parva was leased to John Borrall and his wife by John Croft of Holt in 1528. (fn. 92) In 1651 Thomas Baskerville and Anne his wife conveyed to Matthew Pytts a water corn-mill in Kyre Parva. (fn. 93)
The parish church, of unknown invocation, consists of a chancel 26 ft. by 18 ft. 6 in., small north vestry, nave 46 ft. 9 in. by 21 ft. 6 in., south aisle 34 ft. 2 in. by 7 ft. 2 in., and south-west tower 10 ft. 3 in. by 9 ft. 11 in. All these dimensions are internal.
The nave probably dates from the 12th century, though there is little to indicate this but the unusual thickness of the north wall, and the chancel from the early part of the 13th century, while the south aisle seems to have been added about 1260. The fabric was restored in 1854, and the early work has been considerably altered. The tower, vestry, and all the nave windows are modern, and the east wall has been rebuilt. A sketch made before the restoration shows that there was originally a western bell-turret of timber. The church is built of sandstone rubble with sandstone dressings, tufa being used in some of the modern work, and the walls are plastered internally. The chancel and vestry are roofed with stone slabs, and the nave and aisle with tiles.
The chancel has a modern plate-tracery window of three trefoiled lights in the east wall. On the north are a modern doorway and a pointed arch, both of which open to the vestry. In the south wall are two lancet windows of about 1200, with a modern doorway between them; the western most window, which is a very narrow light, has been repaired, and both have modern internal jambs. There is a modern piscina recess near the east end of the wall.
The pointed chancel arch is modern; it is of two moulded orders, the inner one being stopped at the springing on moulded corbels. The nave presents a rather modern appearance except for the south arcade; there are four windows, each of two trefoiled lights, in the north wall, and one similar window, with a trefoil in the head, in the west wall, all of which are modern; the west wall has either been rebuilt or refaced. On the south is an arcade of four pointed arches of two chamfered orders inclosed by plain chamfered labels, and supported by large circular columns and responds with moulded circular capitals and bases. The three east bays date from about 1260, but the west bay, including the pillar and respond, has been rebuilt to support the modern tower, the original capital of the western column being reused. A piece of a much-worn carved stone with a raised crown upon it, built into the external face of the west wall to the south of the window, may be a small part of a mediaeval monumental slab.
The south aisle is an interesting example of 13th-century work. At the east end of the south wall is a tall dormer window of two trefoiled lights with plain tracery under a two-centred head; the upper half of the window is constructed in a gabled projection above the eaves of the roof. In the gable is a small niche with a trefoiled ogee head. The south wall to the east of the dormer is original, but the portion to the west of it has been rebuilt or refaced. There is a trefoiled light in the east wall, and two windows, each of two trefoiled lights, in the south wall to the west of the dormer, all of which are modern. At the south-east is a 13th-century piscina in perfect condition; it has a trefoiled head with an edge roll continued horizontally across the sill from which the head springs directly, and a multifoiled bowl.
The tower is of two stages and is surmounted by a timber broached spire covered with tiles. The main doorway of the church is in the south wall of the lower stage, which opens by arches to the nave and aisle. The roofs are all modern.
The font, at the west end of the nave, dates from the latter part of the 12th century; it has a circular bowl relieved by twelve shallow round-headed pancls, a plain circular shaft, and a moulded base; a small step forming one piece with the base projects from it on the west. The rim of the bowl has been repaired in the places formerly occupied by the iron staples of the hinge and lock of the font cover.
The pulpit is of panelled oak and is dated 1631, the initial I being cut away. In the front of the reading desk are two carved panels flanked and divided by demi-figures in high relief, and above them is a panel carved with grotesque animals and inscribed 'Roger . Osland . churchwarden . 1635.' The oak chancel screen dates from the 15th century; it is a simple oak screen having three open trefoiled bays with tracery in their heads on each side of the entrance, and a crowning moulded cornice; the lower part is filled with modern plain panelling. There are two carved oak chairs in the chancel, and in the vestry are preserved a 17th-century oak table with turned legs and a small panelled oak chest of c. 1600. At the west end of the nave, against the north wall, are some pieces of 17th-century oak panelling used as bench ends. In the south-east corner of the tower are three pieces of mediaeval monumental slabs of sandstone; two of these form parts of a complete slab having in relief a cross formy with a long stem; the other piece is the upper end of a similar stone with a larger cross. Both probably date from the 13th or early 14th century. Here also is a floor slab to 'E. B. 1664,' and below the east respond of the nave arcade is another slab commemorating Thomas Pytts, who died in 1594, Richard Pytts, 1657, and Matthew Pytts, 1671.
The tower contains a ring of three bells with the following inscriptions: the treble, 'All praise and Glory be to God for ever. Richard Brook. C.W. 1669'; the second, 'Thomas Hammond, Meredith Iones. churchwardens 1687'; and the tenor, 'T. E. M. Holland Rector. Thos Webb. C.W. 1842. T. Mears Fect.' There is also a small call bell with no inscription.
The communion plate consists of a silver chalice of 1851, a paten of 1853, a flagon of 1805, and a pewter paten and flagon, probably of the 18th century.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1571 to 1717; (ii) all entries 1718 to 1754, baptisms and burials to 1768; (iii) baptisms and burials 1768 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1755 to 1799; (v) marriages 1800 to 1813.
The advowson of Stoke Bliss evidently belonged originally to the Mortimers of Wigmore, overlords of the manor, for it was given by Roger Mortimer, who died in 1282, to the priory of Limebrook. (fn. 94) Roger's widow Maud presented to the church in 1300, (fn. 95) but the prioress presented in the following year, (fn. 96) and in 1302 the church was appropriated to the priory, (fn. 97) the vicarage being ordained in 1303. (fn. 98) Both Roger's gift and the appropriation had been carried out without the king's consent, which was obtained in 1309. (fn. 99) It was agreed that the vicar should have the altarages, all tithes of the fee of Brecknock, a suitable house and land called la Pyrie. (fn. 100) A pension of 3s. was to be paid to the church of Bromyard and 18d. to the church of Tenbury. (fn. 101)
The advowson and rectory remained with the priory until the Dissolution, (fn. 102) when they came to the Crown, in which the advowson still remains. (fn. 103) Certain tithes at Stoke Bliss were granted in 1545 to Richard and Thomas Lawley, (fn. 104) who sold them in the same year to Thomas Rotsey. (fn. 105) These tithes afterwards passed to Thomas Baskerville, (fn. 106) who also acquired the rectory of Stoke Bliss, which is mentioned in deeds relating to the manor between 1589 and 1622. (fn. 107)
Stoke Bliss is returned in the Institution Books as a vicarage until 1740. Ecton, two years later, says 'the institutions have always been as to a vicarage, but . . . it seems to be entitled to rectorial tithes. Thomas Spilsbury compounded for the first fruits thereof as a rectory, 20 Aug. 1717.' (fn. 108) Since the middle of the 18th century it has always been looked upon as a rectory, though it was returned in 1831 as a vicarage. (fn. 109)
In 1575 Queen Elizabeth granted the chapel of St. Fletcher with land in Stoke Bliss belonging to it to John Herbert and Andrew Palmer. (fn. 112) The chapel yard or close was sold to James Pytts of Stoke Bliss in 1577 by William Oliver, (fn. 113) and in 1579 the chapel and land belonging to it, as granted in 1575, and then in the tenure of John Pytts, was also sold to him by Francis Downes of Hyde, to whom it had apparently been transferred. (fn. 114) An award was made in 1580 by Edward Pytts directing James Pytts of the Perrie to convey to Richard Barneby of Bockleton the chapel and lands lately acquired of Francis Downes. (fn. 115)
In 1740 Alexander Dykes, by will proved at Hereford, gave £100, the interest to be divided among three poor people. The legacy was invested in the purchase of 10 a. 3 r. 33 p. of land in Stoke Bliss producing £18 yearly. The official trustees also hold £37 6s. 6d. consols, representing proceeds of sale of timber, and producing 18s. 8d. yearly. The income is distributed in monthly payments of 10s. each to three poor persons.
In 1892 Thomas Dorrell, by his will proved at Hereford, gave £100. The legacy is represented by £99 7s. 7d. Local Loans 3 per cent. stock, producing £2 19s. 8d. yearly. The income is applied in clothing and boots, which are distributed to three poor persons resident in either Stoke Bliss or Kyre Parva.
In 1902 the Rev. Godfrey Edward Alexander, by his will proved at London, bequeathed £300, the income to be applied in maintaining the fabric of the church. The legacy, less duty, was invested in £268 6s. 5d. India 3 per cent. stock, producing £8 1s. yearly. In 1884 Miss Frances Holland, by her will proved 16 January, left £100, the interest to be applied in educating poor children of Stoke Bliss and Kyre Parva. The legacy is represented by £92 14s. consols, producing £2 6s. 4d. yearly.
The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees.