A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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Biselie, Biselege (xi cent.); Bisselea (xii cent.); Bisscheleye, Besselegh (xiv cent.); Bussheley (xv cent.).
Bushley is an agricultural parish on the right bank of the Severn, opposite Tewkesbury. It has an area of 1,834 acres, of which the greater part is grass land. (fn. 1) The soil is clay, with a subsoil of Keuper Marls, and Alluvium near the river. The Severn forms the eastern boundary, while on the north Queenhill Brook, which runs into the Severn, separates Bushley from Queenhill, so that on two sides the parish is bounded by water. The ground slopes upward in a westerly direction from the river bank, where it is very low and liable to floods, and reaches on the western boundary a height of about 200 ft. above the ordnance datum. The high road from Ledbury to Tewkesbury passes through Bushley, and where it reaches the Severn the river is crossed by a single-span iron bridge built by Telford in 1826–30. (fn. 2)
The village, which stands near the Severn on a branch from this high road, is small. There is a parochial school built in 1857. Pull Court, the home of the Dowdeswell family, was built in 1836–9 by Canon E. C. Dowdeswell on the site of an older house, described as ancient in 1628. It stands in a well-wooded park at the north end of the parish, and is a large and picturesque stone building in the Elizabethan style with curved gables and square-headed mullioned windows, erected on three sides of a court, with stone screen and gateway opposite the hall.
At Payne's Place, an interesting 15th-century halftimbered house at Bonnells End, Thomas Payne and Ursula his wife lived at the time of the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. According to tradition, Margaret of Anjou, when she fled from the battlefield, crossed the Severn by the ford and found refuge for the night at Payne's Place. In memory of the event one of the rooms was called the Queen's room. (fn. 3) Thomas Payne died in 1500 and Payne's Place passed to a Master Stratford, who was living there in 1558. His great-grandson Anthony was killed at the battle of Worcester in 1651. He was succeeded by his relative Anthony Stratford, who in 1678 sold the estate to Mr. Dowdeswell, (fn. 4) to whose descendants it still belongs.
There was a vineyard at Bushley in the 12th and 13th centuries. (fn. 5) In 1620 it was found by presentment of the Grand Jury that 'the stocks at Bushley were so insufficient that they would not hold a rogue.' (fn. 6)
The following place-names occur: Dokemede, Shirmede, Oxonleese, Le Lynche, Henleybroke, Hoggebroke, Crokkere, Horsecrofte, Saronhille, Morefurlonge, Eggebroke, Dedherle (fn. 7) (xv cent.); Strippelingplace, (fn. 8) Longmead, Froggmore, Oyehey (or Oxhey) Close, (fn. 9) Poole Grove (fn. 10) (xvi cent.); Dock Meadow, Little Hay, Lipiate at the Lake, the Little Dower, the Middle Lay, the Lord's Grove, Parkfield (or Parkersfield), The Linches, Henley and Layfurlong (fn. 11) (xvii cent.).
At one time BUSHLY was included in the hundred of Oswaldslow, (fn. 12) being held of the Bishop of Worcester's manor of Bredon. (fn. 13) It was still held of this manor at the end of the 13th century. (fn. 14) Bishop Lyfing (1038–44) sold it to Brictric son of Algar, (fn. 15) the great English thegn and lord of Hanley. (fn. 16) Two accounts of Bushley are given in the Domesday Survey. One says that Brictric bought it, together with a house in Worcester city and a wood a league in length and the same in breadth, for 3 marks of gold. 'All this he bought and held undisturbed, doing service to no man for it.' (fn. 17) The other account says that Brictric paid rent to the bishop for it every year, 'and yet he rendered to the bishop whatever he owed to the King's service.' (fn. 18)
Until the 16th century this estate, later known as the manor of Bushley Park, descended with the manor of Hanley Castle (fn. 19) (q.v.) as part of the honour of Tewkesbury. In 1545 Henry VIII granted it to Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London, and his successors in exchange for lands in Essex. (fn. 20) The Bishops of London held Bushley till 1647, when it was sold by the Parliamentary Trustees to William Hancocke. (fn. 21) The bishop's lands having been recovered at the Restoration, Bishop Sheldon in 1685 leased Bushley to Richard Dowdeswell of Pull Court, (fn. 22) who eventually bought the manor, an Act being passed in 1691 to enable the bishop to sell it. (fn. 23) The manor of Bushley Park has since descended with Pull Court (q.v.). (fn. 24)
From 1296 to the middle of the 16th century there are frequent references to a windmill appurtenant to the manor of Bushley Park. (fn. 25) It may have disappeared before 1545, as it is not mentioned in the grant to the Bishop of London, nor is there any later reference to it. Its site is probably indicated by Windmill Tump at the entrance to the park at Pull Court.
The woods of Bushley, (fn. 26) which were part of Malvern Chase, were formerly of great importance, and played a considerable part in the development of the place. William Fitz Osbern, lord of Hanley and Bushley after the Conquest, appointed two foresters, one from Hanley and the other from Bushley. (fn. 27) Simon de Columba in the 12th century received the lordship of Pull for his service of keeping the 'haya' of Bushley. (fn. 28) In 1307 the underwood at Bushley and Malvern Chase 'could not be sold because of the game.' (fn. 29) As in Hanley Castle (q.v.), the woods passed with the manor to the Tudor kings, who appointed a series of masters of the parks. (fn. 30) In 1545 Bushley Park was 210 acres in extent. It was granted in that year with the manor to Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London, (fn. 31) who leased it to the Lechmeres of Hanley Castle. (fn. 32) In 1549 Bonner was deposed from his see, which was given in 1550 to Nicholas Ridley. Ridley granted a lease of Bushley Park for ninety-nine years to Mr. George Carr. (fn. 33) On the accession of Mary in 1553 Ridley was deposed and Bonner recalled; he tried to oust the Carrs by renewing the lease of the park to the Lechmeres. (fn. 34) This led to a long suit between the two families, (fn. 35) till in 1591 the Privy Council ordered the law officers of the Crown to investigate the case, (fn. 36) with the result that the Carrs remained at Bushley Park till the end of their lease in 1657. (fn. 37) The park was sold with the manor in 1647. (fn. 38) It is mentioned in the 18th century, (fn. 39) but no later reference has been found.
Sybil, probably the wife of Robert Fitz Hamon, gave a virgate of land in Bushley to the abbey of Tewkesbury, her gift being confirmed by Henry II. (fn. 40) The abbey continued to hold this estate until the Dissolution. (fn. 41) It was granted in 1556–7 to John Hanby, (fn. 42) who sold it shortly after to Edmund Colles of Leigh. (fn. 43) He gave it to his grandson John (son of his younger son Richard), (fn. 44) who held it in 1620 (fn. 45); in 1636 he sold it to Richard Dowdeswell of Pull Court, (fn. 46) with which estate this manor of Bushley has since descended.
A fishery in the Severn is mentioned in 1636 as an appurtenance of this manor. (fn. 47)
The estate now known as PULL COURT (Lapule, xi cent.) originally formed part of the manor of Longdon, and perhaps takes its name from 'Orices pulle' mentioned in the boundaries of Longdon in 972. (fn. 48) In 1086 the king held the 3 virgates at Pull which had been taken by William Fitz Osbern out of Longdon and added to his manor of Bushley. (fn. 49)
Pull was held by the Crown for some years, (fn. 50) and was given by Henry II to Simon de Columba for the serjeanty of keeping the 'haya' of Bushley. (fn. 51) Simon still held Pull in 1210–12, (fn. 52) while Hugh de Columba had half a virgate of land in Bushley by the same serjeanty. (fn. 53) Shortly after Pull fell to the Crown. King John possibly gave it to William Cumin, who in 1220 claimed a free tenement in Pull against the Earl of Gloucester. Cumin said that he had held it 'a long time before the war' (1215–17), but had been disseised by Gascoyne de Sancell, (fn. 54) and he produced a writ of Henry III dated 1217 commanding that he should be restored to the seisin of Pull. The earl claimed that it belonged to King John's wife Isabel Countess of Gloucester, who lost her lands temporarily during the war, when Pull was given to Cumin. After the war, however, the countess's lands were restored to her, Pull being included among them. (fn. 55) The earl won his case and Cumin gave up his claim. (fn. 56) The manor was acquired before 1280 by the Abbot of Tewkesbury, who paid a mark for it at about that time. (fn. 57) In 1291 the abbot held the hamlet of Pull, (fn. 58) and his successors held it till the surrender of the abbey in 1540. (fn. 59)
In 1531 the abbot leased the site of Pull to Edward Tyndale, (fn. 60) after whose death in 1546 his widow Joan and son Thomas held it. (fn. 61) In 1566 part of the manor was leased to Richard and Edward Trotman, (fn. 62) and in 1574 the reversion was granted to Robert Earl of Leicester. (fn. 63) In the same year the site of the manor was granted to Drew Drury. (fn. 64) Edward Trotman in 1575 sold the site and capital messuage of the manor of Pull to William Childe, (fn. 65) who at his death in 1601 (fn. 66) left it, for the payment of his debts, to Ralph Sheldon and John Childe. He was succeeded by his son William, whose younger brother John (fn. 67) in 1607 had a grant of the manor and site under the Defective Titles Act. (fn. 68) In 1609 William, John and Thomas Childe conveyed Pull to Sir John Rous, (fn. 69) who in 1628 sold it to Roger Dowdeswell. (fn. 70) He was succeeded in 1633 by his son Richard, a leading Royalist, (fn. 71) whose estates were sequestered in 1645. (fn. 72) He was returned member for Tewkesbury in the first Parliament after the Restoration. (fn. 73) He died in 1673 (fn. 74) and his son William, who held Pull in 1676, (fn. 75) died in 1683. (fn. 76) William's son Richard was M.P. for Tewkesbury in ten Parliaments (fn. 77) and Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1688. (fn. 78) He was a supporter of William of Orange and active in suppressing the Papists; he died in 1711. (fn. 79) His son William, (fn. 80) member for Tewkesbury from 1711 to 1715, (fn. 81) died in 1728, (fn. 82) leaving a son William, (fn. 83) who was also a member for Tewkesbury in 1747. (fn. 84) In 1765 he became chancellor of the Exchequer in Rockingham's first administration. (fn. 85) He was an intimate friend of Edmund Burke, who wrote the epitaph on his monument in Bushley Church. He died in 1775 (fn. 86) and was succeeded by his sons Thomas, (fn. 87) who died in 1811, (fn. 88) and William, who was a lieutenant-general in the army, from which he retired in 1811. He was member for Tewkesbury in 1792–6, (fn. 89) and died without issue in 1828. (fn. 90) The next brother, Canon Edward Christopher Dowdeswell, (fn. 91) gave up his claim in the estate to his youngest brother John Edmund, who accordingly succeeded in 1828. (fn. 92) He was member for Tewkesbury from 1812–31 (fn. 93) and died in 1851. (fn. 94) His son William, member for Tewkesbury in 1835–47 (fn. 95) and Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1855, (fn. 96) was succeeded in 1887 (fn. 97) by his son William Edward, (fn. 98) member for Tewdesbury in 1865–6 (fn. 99) and for West Worcestershire from 1866 to 1876. (fn. 100) He died in 1893 without issue, (fn. 101) and his brother and successor, the Rev. Edmund Richard Dowdeswell, is the present owner of the manor.
The church of ST. PETER was entirely rebuilt in 1843 by Canon Dowdeswell and consists of chancel, north and south transepts, nave and west tower and spire.
The present chancel replaced a shallow original apse in 1857 and was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott. (fn. 102) It is in the style of the 14th century and has a chapel on the south side opening to both chancel and transept. On the north the chapel is inclosed by an oak screen and on the west by one of iron supporting a rood with attendant figures. There is also a small vestry on the north side of the chancel.
The organ stands in a gallery at the west end erected in 1908. The font is ancient, and may be of late 12th-century date. It consists of a hexagonal cupshaped stone bowl, slightly chamfered on the angles. In 1842 it was 'taken into a farmyard and served as a drinking trough for about five years, when it was taken to the churchyard and placed on a stone plinth, said to have been the base of one of the four great baulks of timber which carried the frame in the old tower. This stone still remains in the churchyard, but the font has been placed in the church' (fn. 103) on a new base. It replaced a font of white stone dating from 1843. (fn. 104)
Habington records (fn. 105) that in the east window of the old church there were the effigies of Lord Edward le Despencer (d.1375) and his wife Elizabeth (d.1409), with the figure of the Blessed Virgin in the middle pane with the Saviour in her arms. The brass figures of Thomas Payne and his wife, which were in 'the midst of the chancel' in the old church, are now fixed to the wall at the west end of the nave, but the inscription and the figures of eleven sons and four daughters, together with a shield of arms, have been lost. The figures are each 2 ft. long and stand erect with hands in prayer. The man is habited in a long tunic confined at the waist by a girdle, from which hangs a rosary. The woman wears a tight-fitting robe with close sleeves and deep fur cuffs, and has a loose girdle, on which are the words 'Deus meus,' reaching to the feet. She wears a kennel head-dress, on the left-hand lappet of which are the words 'Deus meus es tu.'The inscription was copied by Nash and is reproduced on a modern brass plate below the figures. It records the date of Thomas's death, 30 October 1500.
A number of monuments and stones to members of the Dowdeswell family, chiefly of 17th-century date, from the old church are now in the nave. (fn. 106) The monument to William Dowdeswell, chancellor of the Exchequer 1765–6, who died in 1775, is now in the south chapel. It was erected in 1777 and bears Burke's long and laudatory inscription. (fn. 107) On the north wall of the nave is a brass to Roberts Freeman, gent., who died in 1651, with rhyming inscription and two coats of arms, and a tablet to General William Dowdeswell (d. 1828), who was Governor of the Bahamas 1798 to 1801.
There is a ring of six bells. The treble was cast in 1889 by Mears & Stainbank, but the other five are all by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester, 1710. (fn. 108)
The plate consists of a modern chalice and paten of mediaeval design, and a flagon of 1723 given by A. Dowdeswell. (fn. 109)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1538 to 1695; (ii) baptisms and burials 1696 to 1812, marriages 1696 to 1755; (iii) marriages 1755 to 1812. The first volume contains the original paper register as well as the parchment copy made in 1597.
Two windows of 14th-century date from the old church were built into an artificial ruin at Pull Court in 1843. From the evidence of these windows, and from the fact that his effigy was depicted in the glass of the east window, it has been conjectured that a new church was built by Lord Edward le Despencer, replacing the 12th-century chapel built by Simon de Columba. (fn. 110)
William Fitz Osbern gave to the monastery of Lire in Normandy, which he founded in 1045, the tithes of his demesne of Bushley, and the grant was confirmed by Henry II, John Bishop of Worcester and William Earl of Gloucester. (fn. 111) The Abbot of Tewkesbury also had some share in the tithes, Bushley being in the parish of Tewkesbury, of which the abbot was impropriator, (fn. 112) and in 1151 there was a dispute between the two abbeys concerning the tithes of Forthampton, Prato, Bushley and Pull. The parties were heard by the Bishop of Worcester and the matter settled amicably. Lire gave up to Tewkesbury the tithes of Pull, while Tewkesbury yielded to Lire those of Bushley, Forthampton, &c. 'If the land of the peasants increased in assarts (clearing the woodland) the tithes were to be paid to the priest of Forthampton; but if the land of the monks of Lire increased, the tithes were to be paid to Lire, a third being reserved to the priest of Forthampton and Bushley for his chantry.' (fn. 113)
The arrangement was only temporarily successful, and before 1162 a fresh agreement was made by which Lire, for 2½ marks, granted to Tewkesbury all the tithes of Forthampton, Bushley and Queenhill. (fn. 114) In the time of Abbot Alan (1187–1202) Simon de Columba with Rose his wife granted to Tewkesbury Abbey two parts of the tithes of his lordship of Bushley (? Pull), retaining a third for the use of Simon's own oratory. Later, his wife being dead, he gave to Tewkesbury, for the repose of her soul, his own and that of his daughter Rose, the tithes of hay in his demesne of Pull. (fn. 115) About this time (1187–1202) Richard Swift gave to the church of St. Peter at Bushley 12d. a year and a croft on which the priest's barn stood. (fn. 116)
Bushley remained a chapelry of Tewkesbury (fn. 117) until the Dissolution, (fn. 118) and as such was appropriated to the abbey. (fn. 119) Since then the living has been a donative and no institutions are recorded. (fn. 120) It is now a curacy in the gift of the Dowdeswells.
In 1610 the tithes of Bushley were granted to the Earl of Salisbury, (fn. 121) who conveyed them in 1618 to John Mayle. (fn. 122) The tithes of Pull were granted in 1574 to Drew Drury (fn. 123) and in 1607 to John Childe. (fn. 124) Roger Dowdeswell in 1609 had a grant of tithes in Bushley. (fn. 125) In 1776 the Dowdeswells held the rectory of Bushley. (fn. 126)
Thomas Payne in 1476 obtained for the parishioners of Bushley the right of burial in their church and churchyard. (fn. 127)
Mrs. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, who died in 1705, is stated on the church table to have given by her will £80 to purchase an annuity of £ 4 to be applied towards the better maintenance of the minister. The principal sum was laid out in the purchase of land.
The same table stated that one pasture ground adjoining to Bushley Green and two small parcels of meadow ground in Bushley Meadow had been anciently given to repair the church.
The parish is not in possession of the lands referred to, but some lands lying dispersedly in Hardwick Field in the parish of Eldersfield containing about 8½ acres, which may have been acquired in exchange for the properties above mentioned, were sold in 1893 and the proceeds invested in £178 17s. 8d. consols with the official trustees. This stock was sold out and the proceeds, together with unapplied income, were in 1900 laid out in the purchase of 7 acres of land called Knight's Field in the parish of Upton upon Severn. The land is let at £ 8 yearly, and the official trustees hold £55 6s. 4d consols, producing £17s. 8d yearly, arising from the sale of timber. Two-thirds of the net income is paid to the minister and onethird is distributed among the poor in small sums.