A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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Chaceley is a small parish on the right bank of the Severn opposite Deerhurst. It is situated at the southern extremity of the county. The area is 1,763 acres, of which 1,136 are grass land, (fn. 1) but crops of wheat and beans are grown. The south-eastern part of the parish, in the Severn Valley, is low and liable to floods; but the land rises gradually from the river and at Roundhill, near Hillend, reaches a height of 150 ft. above the ordnance datum.
The village is low-lying near the bank of the river. The men are engaged in agriculture or in river work, and some of the women were formerly glove-sewers. (fn. 2) The church stands near Chaceley Court, to the north of which was an ancient tithe barn. West of the village is Hillend, and about half a mile south-west of the church is Newhall, a large brick building of 18th-century date, with a moat a little to the south of it. An interesting old timbered house standing below Roundhill, now known as Chaceley Hall, was formerly called Chaceley Hole, and has been in the occupation of the same family, the Lanes, for 300 years. The house now belongs to the Mercers' Company. To the north-east of the village is New House, a good specimen of black and white work, at one time the residence of the Buckle family. (fn. 3) Newhall Brook flows from Poolhay in Eldersfield past Newhall, and empties itself into the Severn at Chaceley Stock Brickworks, opposite Deerhurst. These brickworks have been long disused. Near Eldersfield, on the western boundary of Chaceley, is Corse Lawn, where a skirmish took place in 1644.
CHACELEY, though not included by name in Edgar's charter to the abbey of Pershore in 972, was evidently part of the thirty manses at Longdon then confirmed to the abbey, for its boundaries are given with those of Eldersfield and Staunton, following on those of Longdon at the end of the charter. (fn. 10) It descended with the chief manor in Longdon (fn. 11) (q.v.) and the Dean and Chapter of Westminster are still lords of the manor. (fn. 12)
The share of the manor held by the Saltmarsh and Grendour families was known as the manor of CHACELEY GRENDOUR; it followed the descent of the Saltmarsh lands in Longdon. (fn. 13)
The part of the manor belonging to the Muchgros family descended with their estate in Longdon (fn. 14) (q.v.) to the Winslow and Croft families, (fn. 15) being mentioned for the last time in 1560, when it belonged to Richard Croft. (fn. 16)
In 1086 Urse held 5 hides of land in the manor of Longdon. (fn. 17) Part of this land was probably at Chaceley, for early in the 12th century Urse's descendant William Beauchamp held 2 hides at Chaceley, (fn. 18) and half a knight's fee in this parish ivas held of the Beauchamps, Earls of Warwick, until the beginning of the 15th century. (fn. 19) This estate was given by Laurence de Gunterford and Joan le Blake his wife to the priory of Little Malvern, their grant being confirmed about 1235–69 by William Beauchamp. (fn. 20) In 1291 the Prior of Little Malvern held a carucate of land in Chaceley. (fn. 21) It may have been the same estate as the 'manor of Hull' in Chaceley, for which the prior paid subsidy in 1276. (fn. 22) It remained in the possession of the priory until the Dissolution, (fn. 23) when the estate was valued at £6 17s. 2d. (fn. 24) In 1543 the manor of Chaceley, formerly belonging to the priory of Little Malvern, was granted in fee to George Throckmorton of Deerhurst, (fn. 25) and was alienated by him in the following year to Robert Phelps, his tenant. (fn. 26) Robert died in 1544, and in 1545 his son Florence Phelps had livery of his lands. (fn. 27) Florence died in 1586 (fn. 28) seised of the manor of Chaceley, and his son William Phelps had livery of the manor in 1589. (fn. 29) He died in 1612, and was succeeded by his son Robert, (fn. 30) who, with Dorothea his wife, conveyed the manor of Chaceley in 1626 to Christopher Helme. (fn. 31) He sold it in 1653 to Samuel Phelps, (fn. 32) whose will is dated 1670; his property appears to have passed to heiresses, viz., Dorothy Willett, widow, Mary Phelps and Alder wife of George Wickes. (fn. 33) A conveyance of the manor was made to John Martin in 1732, (fn. 34) and in 1772 Alder Wickes and Thomas Francis Martin were owners of this manor. (fn. 35) A daughter of Samuel Phelps, possibly Alder Wickes, is said to have left Chaceley by will to Samuel Netherton, who was holding it in 1782, (fn. 36) but the further descent of the estate has not been traced.
In 1553 Nicholas Clifton (fn. 37) granted a messuage in Chaceley to Thomas Nest. (fn. 38) In 1565 Nicholas held a manor called NEWHALL or Chaceley, (fn. 39) which descended with Clifton in Severn Stoke (fn. 40) (q.v.) until it was sold by Francis Clifton in 1608 to John Taylor. (fn. 41) John and Roger Taylor sold it in 1626 to Henry Browne, (fn. 42) who sold it in 1662 to William Buckle (fn. 43); in 1712 it belonged to John Sanford, who seems then to have conveyed it to the Buckle family. (fn. 44) In a survey of the manor of Longdon, 1757, William Buckle occurs as a tenant of Westminster Abbey in Chaceley, paying 10s. 8d. for Newhall. (fn. 45) In 1818 he was the most important landowner in Chaceley, but at that date the estate of Newhall (160 acres) was in the hands of Dr. Seale, who inherited from an uncle, John Seale. (fn. 46) All manorial rights connected with this estate have lapsed and its further descent has not been traced.
There was a mill called Verleys Mill in Chaceley in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 47)
The church of ST. JOHN BAPTIST consists of chancel 26 ft. 9 in. by 17 ft. 6 in., nave 38 ft. 4 in. by 19 ft. 6 in. with south aisle 15 ft. 4 in. wide, south porch, and west tower 10 ft. square, surmounted by a short stone spire. All these measurements are internal.
The chancel arch is of 12th-century date and is all that remains of a church of that period which consisted of an aisleless nave and probably a small square-ended chancel. This building apparently remained unaltered till the early part of the 14th century, when the south wall of the nave was taken down and the aisle added. The chancel may have been rebuilt a few years earlier, but it has been largely reconstructed in modern times. The tower followed the building of the aisle, the whole church being practically reconstructed before the middle of the 14th century. From this time forward the fabric underwent no structural changes, though internally it no doubt passed through the usual vicissitudes of later times. Before the restoration of 1881–2 it was described as 'choked with galleries and raised pews' and the tower and spire were in a dangerous condition. (fn. 48) The galleries and pews were removed, the chancel walls rebuilt above the window sills, the tower repaired and the spire and south porch rebuilt. The former porch was described as 'a poor modern one.' (fn. 49) Before this time, however, the north wall of the nave had been rebuilt in brick, though the old stone buttresses were retained. With this exception, the church throughout is built of rubble masonry and externally is almost wholly a restoration. The aisle is under a separate gabled roof, and all the roofs are eaved and covered with red tiles.
The chancel is divided externally into two bays and has diagonal buttresses at the east end. The east window is a modern traceried opening of three trefoiled lights, and there are two square-headed windows of three and two lights respectively on the south side, with a priest's doorway between. The lower part of the westernmost window and the priest's doorway, which has a plain pointed head in two stones chamfered on the angle, are the only original external features. On the north side the chancel is lighted by two windows, the westernmost being square-headed and of two trefoiled lights like the one opposite. The other is a two-light pointed window with quatrefoil in the head, and on the south side of the altar in the east wall is an aumbry divided into two unequal compartments with pointed opening and blind tracery in the stone above. The doors are new. In the south wall in the usual position is a piscina with cinquefoiled head under a moulded label, the projecting bowl of which is partly cut away. Internally the chancel walls are of bare stone and the roof is modern. The floor is raised one step above that of the nave.
The 12th-century chancel arch is elliptical in form and of two orders springing from half-round responds and angle shafts on either side. Both orders are square and on the east side without ornament, but towards the nave the outer order is carved with lozenge ornament and has a double billeted hood mould. A human face is carved on the keystone. The responds and angle shafts have scalloped capitals and moulded bases, those of the responds being new, and the arch springs at a height of 8 ft. above the chancel floor. The detail of the capitals varies, that on the south side towards the nave having in addition a carved face looking north.
The wall above the chancel arch and the north wall of the nave are plastered, the rest of the interior walling being of bare rubble, and there are two windows of two lights on the north side with a builtup doorway between. The arcade consists of four pointed arches of two chamfered orders springing at a height of 8 ft. 6 in. from undivided octagonal piers without capitals, but having moulded bases, and from similar responds at either end. The outer order is carried on both sides by a series of carved heads facing north and south, but there is no hood mould. The aisle windows are modern with reticulated tracery, probably copies or restorations of old work, and there is an original piscina in the usual position in the south wall with trefoiled crocketed head and projecting bowl moulded on the edge. The south doorway has a pointed arch of two chamfered orders continued to the ground and a hood mould with carved head terminations similar in character to those of the nave arcade. The hood mould has been renewed, but all the rest of the work, including the door, is original.
The tower is divided externally by a string at the belfry stage, below which the walls are unbroken to the plinth. The west window is original and of two lights and there are diagonal buttresses of three stages weathering back at rather less than half-height. The west doorway below the window is modern. The masonry up to the belfry stage is of thin grey rubble wallstones with quoins at the angles, but above the string the stones are of larger size, and may indicate that the belfry is rather later in date or a rebuilding. The belfry windows are of two sharply pointed trefoiled lights without labels, and the walls terminate in an embattled parapet. The spire has a small trefoiled opening near the base on each of the four cardinal sides. There is no vice. The tower arch is of two chamfered orders, the inner being hollow, and springs from moulded imposts. The lower stage is now used as a vestry and is separated from the nave by a modern oak screen.
The font is octagonal, approaching to tub-shape form, and stands on two original circular steps. The upper part forming the basin has a moulding at mid-height and a chamfer on the lower edge and is 2 ft. 5 in. in diameter. The font may be of late 13th or early 14th-century date.
Two 15th-century oak seats with carved ends remain in the nave, and all the modern seating has been copied from them. The reseating was begun in 1887 and completed ten years later. The pulpit is modern and oak.
The roof of the nave had been reconstructed before the restoration of 1881–2 from old materials belonging chiefly to an older roof. It consists of four bays and has been boarded below the former segmental ceiling, but the old tie-beams remain exposed. The old oak roof of the aisle was opened out in 1882 and plastered between the rafters.
In the middle light of the east window is an interesting piece of ancient glass with a representation of the Crucifixion. The figure of our Lord is draped in blue below the waist and the wood of the cross is green.
On the cast wall of the aisle is a tablet to Mary Helme (nèe Fisher) erected by her husband, Christopher Helme, in 1629, with the arms of Helme impaling Fisher. A 'fair raised monument' on the north side of the chancel mentioned by Nash (fn. 50) has disappeared.
There is a ring of six bells, all cast by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester, three dated 1699, one without date and the others cast in 1718 and 1719 respectively. (fn. 51)
The plate consists of a large plain chalice of 1696, a silver flagon presented in 1910 by Miss E. A. Lane, a plated paten and two pewter plates. (fn. 52)
To the south of the aisle is the base and stump of a churchyard cross, the stump 18 in. high and octagonal on plan. There is a yew tree on the north side of the building. The village stocks are preserved against the west wall of the aisle.
In 1333 provision was made for a priest to serve the chapel of Chaceley. (fn. 56)
In the 14th century Henry Grendour and the other inhabitants of Chaceley petitioned the Abbot of Westminster for licence to bury their dead in the graveyard at Chaceley because of the long road and the dangerous waters between the chapel of Chaceley and Longdon Church. (fn. 57) Their petition was probably granted, as a cemetery was consecrated here in 1399. (fn. 58)
A yearly rent from certain lands and tenements was given for the maintenance of lights and lamps in Chaceley (fn. 59) (Chavisley).
The school founded in 1728 by will of Thomas Turberville is regulated by a scheme of the Board of Education, 16 August 1906, and is endowed with 8 acres of land called the School Orchard and a cottage and garden, the whole producing £27 yearly, the legal estate in which was in 1907 vested in the official trustee of charity lands. The official trustees of charitable funds also hold a sum of £16 4s. 5d. consols, producing 8s. a year.
It appears from an inscription cut in stone in a wall of the church that a donor unknown gave houses and 11 a. in this parish and 3 a. in the parish of Tirley for charitable purposes. On the inclosure in this parish, in 1796, about 12 a. were allotted out of the waste land called Corse Lawn, 2 a. 2 r. out of a place called the Common Moors, and under another Inclosure Act of the lands in Tirley, about the same period, 5 a. 3 r. in that parish. The property now consists of six cottages and gardens let for £3 10s. yearly, and about 24 a. of land producing £34 18s. 6d. yearly. The official trustees also hold £70 8s. 6d. consols, producing £1 15s., arising from sale of timber. One moiety of the income is applicable for the poor and the other moiety for church repairs and expenses.