A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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Castlemorton is a large parish comprising 3,701 acres, more than half of which is pasture. (fn. 1) It was formerly very well wooded, part of it lying within the forest of Malvern; 'half the forest which belongs to the manor of Morton' was bought by the Abbot of Westminster before 1246 (fn. 2); there are now only about 26 acres of woodland. (fn. 3) The soil is loam and clay and the subsoil Keuper Marl. In the east, near Longdon, the surface is rather flat, but the land rises rapidly towards the Malvern Hills, which form the western boundary of the parish. The highest point is Swinyard Hill, about 800 ft. above the ordnance datum.
The west of the parish is occupied by about 600 acres of uninclosed common land, knows as Castlemorton Common and Hollybed Common,' the last remnant of the once extensive Malvern chase.' (fn. 4) On the commons are various quarries and gravel-pits; near Hollybed Common is a corn-mill, worked by a brook which drains the parish and flows through Longdon into the Severn. Castlemorton was known more frequently till the 14th century as Morton Folliott or Folet, taking its name from its early owner. (fn. 5) The castle was probably thrown up in the 12th century, possibly during the 'anarchy' of Stephen's reign by a member of the Folliott family. Its position is marked by 'Castle Tump' and its surrounding ditches in the village to the south of the church. Its defences were probably of timber, as was frequent in this type of castle; and being raised possibly for a temporary purpose, it apparently has no history. (fn. 6) The castle was bought by Richard de Berkyng, Abbot of Westminster (1222–46), from some of the members of the Folliott family. (fn. 7) It was probably this Abbot Richard who appointed a chaplain to celebrate divine service daily in the chapel of his castle here. (fn. 8) Early in the reign of Edward I the abbot 'appropriated a carucate of land to his castle of Morton. (fn. 9) No other references to the castle have been found.
Hillend Court is situated about a mile east of the village, near the Longdon boundary. It was in the 18th century the home of the Bartlett family, who had, however, lived at Castlemorton for many years before they purchased Hillend. (fn. 10) On 21 September 1642 a force of 150 soldiers under Captain Scriven plundered the house of Mr. Rowland Bartlett of Castlemorton, ' a man so well beloved, for his hospitality so dear to all sorts of people, that had not the rebels taken the opportunity of his neighbours being at Ledbury Fair, the force had been too weak to have plundered his house.'They took away much money and linen, but ' scattered Mrs. Bartlett's sweetmeats on the ground, not daring to taste them for fear of poison. ' Mr. Bartlett had his house plundered five or six times during the Civil War. (fn. 11) Some traces of this house were left in 1854. (fn. 12) In 1609–10 there was a serious outbreak of the plague in Castlemorton. (fn. 13)
Some of the common lands in this parish were inclosed by a general Inclosure Act of 1836. The award was made in 1845. (fn. 14) The men are employed in agriculture; some of the women were formerly glove-sewers. (fn. 15)
The following place-names occur: Wallecroft, Hyngkesdene, Ruylond, Bannesley, Weyley, (fn. 16) Sarparegg (fn. 17) (xiii cent.); Boddyhull (fn. 18) (xiv cent.); Calvestayles, Holewey, Droggersend, Chesemore, Cole Close, Whiteperyfeld, Oxeley, Walruddyng (fn. 19) (xvi cent.); Sidmores (fn. 20) (xvii cent.); Windmill field, (fn. 21) Budnell, Henning Lane, Coniger Gate, Sladmores, Webbens Close, Horsley Gate, Hinkston Gate, Redhill, Loughley, Flingclose, Poolefield (fn. 22) (xviii cent.).
Castlemorton is not mentioned by name in the Domesday Survey; it was then included in the manor of Longdon, and after its first appearance in the 13th century the manor of CASTLEMORTON followed the descent of the chief manor at Longdon (fn. 23) till 1869, when it was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 24) the present lords of the manor. (fn. 25)
The part of the manor held by the Saltmarsh family (see Longdon) was known as the manor of CASTLE MORTON GRENDOUR, and followed the descent of the land held by that family in Longdon. (fn. 26)
The part of the manor held by the Muchgros family descended with Muchgros Manor in Longdon (q.v.) till 1339. (fn. 27) After that there is no further reference to this holding in Castlemorton, which is not mentioned as passing to the Winslows and Crofts. The Toney family, who held the Muchgros manor in Longdon in the 16th century, had licence in 1556 to grant lands in Castlemorton to their tenant Richard Bartlett. (fn. 28)
In the 13th century the priory of Little Malvern had grants of land in Castlemorton from Walter de Longdon, son of John parson of Staunton, (fn. 29) and from Richard de Muchgros. (fn. 30) By 1291 the prior had acquired an estate here consisting of a carucate of land (fn. 31) which was valued at the Dissolution at 57s. 8d. (fn. 32) It was granted as the manor of Castlemorton in 1537 to Richard Bartlett, (fn. 33) physician to Henry VIII and President of the Royal College of Physicians. (fn. 34) He is said to have made a considerable reputation and to have bought many abbey lands. He died without issue in 1556, at the age of eighty-seven, his estate here having been settled in 1555 on his nephews Richard, Thomas and John Bartlett, sons of Edward Bartlett. (fn. 35) Richard Bartlett the younger, who was bailiff of the Westminster manors from 1552–62, died in 1581, leaving as heir his son Henry Bartlett. (fn. 36) Thomas Bartlett of Castlemorton, probably Henry's brother, (fn. 37) was fined for recusancy in 1610. (fn. 38) His son Rowland Bartlett (fn. 39) had his house plundered during the Civil War, (fn. 40) and in 1654 his estate was sequestered for recusancy. (fn. 41) Shortly after this time the Bartletts acquired a manor at Hillend (see below), which became their chief seat. The 'capital messuage called Bartletts Place,' mentioned in 1732 and 1778 (fn. 42) in conveyances of the manor of Hillend, may represent their older holding at Castlemorton. (fn. 43)
The manor of HILLEND in Castlemorton probably originated in land at Castlemorton held in 1238–9 by Odo de Monte or Hill. (fn. 44) In 1280 another Odo de Monte held land here. (fn. 45) In 1327 John de Monte paid a subsidy of 2s. 6d. for his lands in Castlemorton, (fn. 46) and in 1346 he held half a fee formerly held by Odo de Monte. (fn. 47) Richard Hill of Castlemorton is mentioned in 1383 (fn. 48) and John Hill of Castlemorton in 1408–9. (fn. 49) In 1428 this half-fee had passed to the heir of John de Monte. (fn. 50) John Hill, who was dealing with the manor of 'Hullplace' in 1593, (fn. 51) may have been a descendant of this family. A John Hill died about 1623 holding a messuage at Hillend, which then passed to his son Thomas. (fn. 52) This messuage, afterwards called Hillend, had passed before 1634 to John Burrage, who was succeeded in that year by John his son. (fn. 53) John sold it as the manor of Hillend in 1648 to John Okey, (fn. 54) of whom it was purchased in 1656 by Richard Compton. (fn. 55) He may have been a trustee for the Bartlett family, for in 1660 he joined with Rowland Bartlett and his two sons Basil and Bartholomew in making a conveyance of the manor. (fn. 56) Basil Bartlett, grandson of the above-mentioned Basil, was in possession in 1723, (fn. 57) and in 1732 it was settled on Bridget wife of William Bartlett, Basil's brother. (fn. 58) Basil died before 1756, and his heir Edward Bartlett, who sold the manor in 1758 to George Perrott, (fn. 59) appears to have been another brother. In the early part of the 19th century it seems to have belonged to the Hills. (fn. 60) Its further descent has not been traced, and all manorial rights have lapsed.
About 1241 Walter Longdon gave to the priory of Little Malvern all his lands in HOLLYBED (Olbed, xiv cent.) 'extending from the wood of Morton to the land of Richard de Muchgros.' (fn. 61) The priory of St. Bartholomew, Gloucester, founded by King Henry III, (fn. 62) also held lands at Hollybed, and Prior William in the 13th or 14th century gave a carucate of this land to John Longdon and his wife Agnes for life with remainder to Robert Longdon and Joan his wife. (fn. 63) John Longdon was alive and holding land here in 1327, (fn. 64) and in 1339 Robert Longdon (fn. 65) had licence for an oratory in his manor of Hollybed. (fn. 66) Robert was dead in 1376, (fn. 67) and before 1451 his land in Castlemorton had passed to Richard Whittington. (fn. 68) At the Dissolution the priory of St. Bartholomew had lands in Hollybed valued at 12s. 3d. (fn. 69)
'The mill of Morton' is mentioned in 1277–8. At that date there were two mills in Longdon and Castlemorton. (fn. 70) A mill is mentioned here in 1314– 15 (fn. 71) and a mill and water-mill in 1329–30. (fn. 72) The 'mill of Newenmill' and the 'mill of Boddyhull' occur in 1374. (fn. 73) A mill is mentioned in 1416–17 (fn. 74) and Windmillfield in 1707. (fn. 75) There is a corn-mill now near Hollybed Common.
The church of ST. GREGORY consists of chancel 20 ft. 4 in. by 16 ft. 6 in., nave 51 ft. 6 in. by 24 ft., south aisle 9 ft. wide with transeptal chapel at the east end 19 ft. 3 in. by 16 ft. 4 in., north porch and west tower 13 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft. surmounted by a stone spire. All the above measurements are internal.
The chancel and nave probably represent an early 12th-century chapel, to which an aisle and chapel were apparently added about 1200. In 1387 a reconstruction probably took place and the tower was added or rebuilt, the church and churchyard being at this date rededicated. (fn. 76)
In 1647 the sum received by the sale of the leaden steeple in the churchyard of Worcester Cathedral (£617 4s. 2d.) was allotted towards the repair of Castlemorton Church and others. (fn. 77) At this date it would seem the arcade of three arches with a half arch at the west end was rebuilt with wide pointed arches, possibly owing to a threatened or actual ruin of the building. The west pier is of circular section, and is probably the only portion left of the old arcade, though it is uncertain whether it is in its original position. If it is, then it would seem reasonable to suppose that the nave extended further west; but it is more likely that the old arcade was taken down entirely and set out anew, beginning from the east end, where a respond was erected. The detail of the capitals of the respond and two octagonal columns is very rude, and might be of almost any date, consisting of a series of square members of various sizes. New windows were introduced in different parts of the building in the 14th and 15th centuries, and the timber porch apparently belongs to the latter period. In 1682 a chancel screen surmounted by the royal arms was erected, and the old ieating probably dated from about the same time. Some interior improvements were effected in 1872, (fn. 78) but the church was not restored till 1879–80, when the chancel was rebuilt, the whole of the walls cleared of stucco, the nave floor lowered and the roof opened out. The plaster was also removed from the walls inside and the porch was raised so as to show the tympanum of the north doorway. The chancel screen was at the same time removed, its condition having become very dilapidated, and new oak seats were inserted in the nave, some of the old woodwork being worked up into the backs. The tower was restored in 1897 and about 11 ft. of the spire rebuilt, and the chapel was restored in 1908.
The church throughout is built of rubble masonry and the roofs are eaved and covered with modern red tiles. The chancel roof is lower than that of the nave, and the east window is modern and of three cinquefoiled lights under a straight-sided arch, probably a copy of a former window inserted in the 15th century. Two 12th-century windows on the north side were replaced stone for stone in their original positions when the chancel was rebuilt. They are of the usual type, with wide internal splays and heads in one stone without labels. The openings are 17 in. by 8 in. and the glass is nearly flush with the wall outside. On the south side is a square-headed window of two cinquefoiled lights and a priest's doorway, both copies of 15th-century insertions. The chancel contains no traces of mediaeval ritual arrangements, and the arch, which is pointed and of two chamfered orders dying into the wall at the springing, may have replaced the original Norman one in the first half of the 14th century. It has, however, no architectural features, the jambs being square and quite plain. The altar rails have flat pierced oak balusters, and the rail bears the inscription 'R 'H: S' B' 1684 | Robert Archer Minister | J' B: W' B 1683.' The doorway to the rood-loft remains in the east respond of the nave arcade, visible only from the chapel.
The original north and south doorways of the nave remain, the latter having been re-erected in its present position when the aisle was added; both are interesting examples of 12th-century work with semicircular heads and stone tympana. The arch of the north doorway consists of a single order springing from angle shafts with moulded bases and scalloped capitals. It is carved with a rich zigzag ornament and has a hood mould of plainer type. The sculptured tympanum, on which is a representation of the Agnus Dei, has been already described. (fn. 79) The south doorway, which was restored in 1880, is of similar type, but the tympanum is quite plain and the opening is of greater size. (fn. 80) A carved head has been inserted at a later time as the keystone of the arch. The nave has three windows of different dates on the north side, that nearest the east end being a trefoiled lancet with external hood mould and low transom, forming a lychnoscope. The middle window is of three trefoiled lights with perpendicular tracery under a straight-sided fourcentred head, but the mullions and tracery are new. On either side of it internally is a niche of the same period high up in the wall with bracket and elaborate traceried canopy. The window west of the doorway is a late 13th-century opening of three trefoiled lights within a pointed arch, but without label.
The arcade, as already mentioned, consists of three low pointed arches of two chamfered orders without hood moulds, and a portion of a fourth at the west end dying into the wall one voussoir beyond the crown. The two eastern piers are octagonal in section, and the east respond is of similar type with a 4 ft. length of straight wall. The western pier is circular, and all the bases and capitals follow the respective sections of the shafts, but with certain exceptions the details are of a rather nondescript character. The base of the first and the capital and base of the third or circular pier are of early 13thcentury type, though the circular capital has the appearance of a base reversed. (fn. 81)
The aisle has a wide single lancet at the west end and a pointed three-light window of 15th-century date to the east of the doorway. It is separated from the chapel by a pointed arch similar to those of the arcade springing on the south side from an octagonal respond. The chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, (fn. 82) and has an original east window of two trefoiled lancets with separate external hood moulds. The south window is later and of three trefoiled lights with the mullions crossing in the head. In the east wall is a 13th-century piscina with acutely pointed head. The walls of the chapel, like those of the chancel and nave, are externally without buttress or any architectural feature, and the roof is hipped. Habington notes a 'raysed monument over the body of Mr. Gouldinge without arms or inscription' (fn. 83) in the chapel, but this, together with some ancient glass, has disappeared.
The tower has diagonal buttresses of three stages on the west side and a moulded plinth, and terminates in an embattled parapet. There is a projecting vice in the south-east corner, and the west window is of three trefoiled lights with perpendicular tracery. The belfry windows, which consist of a single trefoiled opening, and the parapet have been largely renewed. There is a string at the belfry level, but the lower stages of the tower are unmarked externally. The north-west buttress has a niche in its lower stage with moulded and crocketed canopy, and there is also a plain ogee-headed niche in the south-west buttress. The lofty tower arch is of two chamfered orders, both carried down to the ground on the nave side, but dying into the wall on the west. The spire is octagonal with plain angles.
The font now in use is of late date and consists of an octagonal stone bowl carved with acanthus foliage. It stands on an older moulded base. In the chapel is the mutilated bowl of a 15th-century font, and also a circular stone font of 18th-century date on a tall pedestal.
There is a ring of six bells. The tenor and two others were recast by Llewellins & James of Bristol in 1896, in which year all the bells were rehung. Of the three old bells two are by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester, 1695, and the third was recast by John Rudhall in 1795. (fn. 84)
The plate consists of a chalice of 1821 with domeshaped cover, inscribed 'The gift of the Rev. Charles Crewe Vicar of Longdon to the Church of Castle Morton, 4 January 1822. Jno. Hill, Jno. Dee, Churchwardens'; and a pewter flagon and plate of 1684 inscribed with several initials. (fn. 85)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1558 to 1650, burials 1558 to 1629; (ii) baptisms 1647 to 1669, burials 1648 to 1669, marriages 1651 to 1669; (iii) baptisms 1670 to 1774, burials 1670 to 1783, marriages 1670 to 1753; (iv) baptisms 1774 to 1812, burials 1783 to 1812; (v) marriages 1754 to 1797; (vi) marriages 1797 to 1812.
In the churchyard are the remains of a cross, (fn. 86) and there is a yew tree to the south-east of the chancel.
The church of ALL SAINTS, Holly Bush, formerly a chapel of case to the church of Castlemorton, was constituted a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1913. The vicarage is in the gift of the Bishop of Worcester.
A chapel existed at Castlemorton before 1333 (fn. 87) and was annexed to the church of Longdon until 1880, when Castlemorton was constituted a separate ecclesiastical parish, the living, a vicarage, being in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. (fn. 88) In 1333, when the church of Longdon was appropriated, provision was made for a priest to serve the annexed chapel of Castlemorton. (fn. 89) A graveyard was made at Castlemorton in 1387 on account of the distance from Longdon and the badness of the roads. (fn. 90)
Sir William Houghton, kt., gave one cow valued at 16s. for the maintenance of an obit in the church of Castlemorton. (fn. 91)
The church lands, recorded on a table put up in the church in 1801, now consist of Newland field, part of Welland Meadow, Church Acre, Church Piece, and a house, garden and blacksmith's shop, the whole containing nearly 9 acres and let to various tenants for £27 6s. 8d. yearly. The income is applicable for the repair of the church and for general church expenses.
The poor's lands, recorded on the same table, now consist of part of Welland Meadow, Horse Hill, Brays Meadow, Brook House Orchard, Catherine's Hill Field and a cottage and garden, the whole containing 12 acres, and let to various tenants for £32 9s. 4d. yearly. The income is applied mainly in distribution of coal and groceries to the poor.
The same table also recorded that 10s. a year for ever for the poor of the parish to be given on New Year's Day was charged on an estate in Drugger's End by Christopher Winbury. The annuity is duly paid and applied in the distribution of bread, together with the dividends, amounting to 5s. 8d. a year, on a sum of £11 5s. 10d. consols with the official trustees, representing investment of arrears of the said charge.
In 1881 Mary Elizabeth Adolphine Selwyn by a codicil to her will, proved at Worcester on 20 August, gave £500 Brazilian 5 per cent. stock, the income to be applied towards the services and repairs of All Saints' Church, Holly Bush, Castlemorton. The stock was sold and the proceeds, amounting to £445, are invested on the mortgage of eight houses in Carden Street, Worcester, at 4½ per cent., producing £20 0s. 6d. yearly.