A Topographical Dictionary of England. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1848.
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BENTHAM, a hamlet, in the parish of Badgeworth, Upper division of the hundred of Dudstone and King's Barton, E. division of the county of Gloucester, 4 miles (S. W. by S.) from Cheltenham; containing 236 inhabitants.
Bentham (St. John the Baptist)
BENTHAM (St. John the Baptist), a parish, in the union of Settle, W. division of the wapentake of Staincliffe and Ewcross, W. riding of York; containing 3535 inhabitants, of whom 2180 are in the township of Bentham, 10 miles (W. N. W.) from Settle. This parish is situated on the confines of the county of Lancaster, and comprises 25,811a. 13p., of which 7972a. 27p. are in the township of Bentham; of the latter portion about 2000 acres are common or waste: the soil is poor, resting on a substratum of gritstone. The surface is varied, and the lands are watered by the rivers Greta and Wenning; the former has its source in the higher parts of the parish, and the latter in the adjoining parish of Clapham, and both after flowing through the parish fall into the river Lune. The township contains the villages of Upper and Lower Bentham. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the spinning of flax and the weaving of linen, for which extensive mills have been erected by Messrs. Hornby and Roughsedge; and there are some potteries for various kinds of earthenware. A market is held on Monday at Upper Bentham; and fairs take place on the 5th of February, Easter-Tuesday, the 22nd of June, and the 25th of October.
The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £35. 7. 8½., and in the patronage of James William Farrer, Esq.: the tithes have been commuted for £675, and there is a good glebe-house. The church, situated at Lower Bentham, is a handsome structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower; the nave was rebuilt and enlarged in 1832. An additional church, in the later English style, with a square embattled tower crowned by pinnacles, has been erected at Upper Bentham, by Hornby Roughsedge, Esq., at an expense of £1800; the east window is embellished with stainedglass, and contains a painting of the Last Supper. There is a chapel at Ingleton, in the parish, a very ancient edifice: also one at Ingleton-Fell. The free school was founded by William Collingwood, Esq., who in 1726 left property for its endowment, and also for the foundation and support of an hospital for six widowers and six widows; the income is £240, of which £42 are paid to the master, and £35 to the usher, of the school, and £12 to each of the inmates of the hospital. Thomas Baynes bequeathed land producing £12 per annum, for the augmentation of the head master's salary; and Isabel Baynes left property worth £20 per annum, to be divided among poor housekeepers of the township.
Bentley (St. Mary)
BENTLEY (St. Mary), a parish and liberty, in the union of Alton, hundred of Basingstoke, Odiham and N. divisions of the county of Southampton, 4 miles (W. S. W.) from Farnham; containing 766 inhabitants. It is situated on the river Wey, which, flowing through a valley in a beautifully meandering course, separates this parish from that of Binsted; the surface is finely varied, and the hills on the opposite side of the river are covered with the royal forest of Alice-Holt. The parish comprises 2125 acres of richly cultivated land, of which nearly 200 are planted with hops; there are also 117 acres of common or waste. The village is pleasantly situated on the north side of the road from London to Southampton. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £106; patron, the Archdeacon of Surrey. The church, an ancient structure in the Norman style, situated on an eminence behind the village, was enlarged in 1835. On the lands of Powderham farm are the remains of a Roman encampment, with a tessellated pavement in good preservation.
BENTLEY, a township, in the parish of Wolverhampton, union of Walsall, S. division of the hundred of Offlow and of the county of Stafford, 1¾ mile (W. by N.) from Walsall; containing 428 inhabitants. The township comprises about 1350 acres of land; and contains coal and iron, works for which were commenced in 1832, by the Earl of Lichfield, who is lord of the manor and chief owner of the soil. Bentley Hall, the ancient manor-house of the Lane family, is distinguished as the residence of Colonel Lane, who, and his sister Jane, concealed Charles II. after the battle of Worcester, and assisted him in effecting his escape out of the kingdom. The Hall is a neat building standing on an eminence, and has latterly been the residence of the Anson family.
Bentley (St. Mary)
BENTLEY (St. Mary), a parish, in the incorporation and hundred of Samford, E. division of Suffolk, 5¼ miles (S. W.) from Ipswich; containing 419 inhabitants, and comprises 2801a. 28p. This place is situated close to the road from Ipswich to Colchester, and has a station on the railway between those towns, nearly equidistant from the stations of Manningtree and Ipswich. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £6. 2. 11., and in the gift of the Rev. Charles Edmund Keene: the impropriate tithes have been commuted for £443, and the vicarial for £189; there are about 19 acres of glebe. At Dodnash, in the parish, a small priory of Black canons, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was founded, it is said, by one Wymarus; at its suppression, in 1524, its revenue was £42. 18. 8¼. per annum, and it was granted to Cardinal Wolsey for the endowment of his school and college.
BENTLEY, an ancient chapelry, in the parish of Shustock, union of Atherstone, Atherstone division of the hundred of Hemlingford, N. division of the county of Warwick, 3 miles (S. W.) from Atherstone; containing 266 inhabitants. It lies on the road from Atherstone to Coleshill, and comprises 1835 acres. The chapel, which was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, has long been in ruins.
BENTLEY, a village, in the parish of Rowley, wapentake of Harthill, Hunsley-Beacon division, E. riding of York, 2½ miles (S.) from Beverley; containing 62 inhabitants. This place is situated in the northern part of the parish, and on the road from Beverley to Hessle. In a hedge, east of the village, stands part of one of the ancient crosses that marked the limits of the sanctuary of Beverley minster.
BENTLEY, a township, in the parish of Arksey, union of Doncaster, N. division of the wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill, W. riding of York, 2 miles (N. W. by N.) from Doncaster; containing 790 inhabitants. This village is about a mile from that of Arksey, and has grown up round an ancient manor-house, now known only by its site, but which was formerly the seat of some very eminent persons, and the head of one of the most considerable tenancies of the castle and honour of Tickhill. The tithes were commuted for land and a money payment under an act passed in the 7th and 8th of George IV. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans.
Bentley, Fenny (St. Mary Magdalene)
BENTLEY, FENNY (St. Mary Magdalene), a parish, in the hundred of Wirksworth, S. division of the county of Derby, 2½ miles (N. by W.) from Ashbourn; containing 343 inhabitants. The manor belonged to a branch of the Beresfords of Staffordshire, who settled at this place in the reign of Henry VI. The elder branch of the Beresfords of Bentley, soon became extinct in the male line, and the manor came, by marriage with their heiress, to the Beresfords of Staffordshire, from whom it passed into various hands. Of the manor-house, a castellated mansion, there are still some remains. The parish is situated on the road from Ashbourn to Tissington, and comprises about 1000 acres, mostly good pasture land: there is a limestone-quarry. The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £6. 12. 10., and in the gift of the Bishop of Lichfield: the tithes have been commuted for £60, and the glebe consists of 35 acres, with a house. The church is a small structure with a square tower, and has a curious richly-carved screen: it contains a monument, with figures of his sixteen sons and five daughters, to one of the Beresford family, who distinguished himself in the wars with France, and died in 1473.
Bentley, Great (St. Mary)
BENTLEY, GREAT (St. Mary), a parish, in the union and hundred of Tendring, N. division of Essex, 8 miles (E. S. E.) from Colchester; containing 1005 inhabitants. This parish, which on the west is bounded by a small creek flowing into the river Colne, is about eleven miles in circumference; the surface is diversified with hill and valleys, and the general scenery is cheerful. Fairs are held on the Monday after Trinity-Monday, for cattle; the last Friday in Sept., for sheep; and the Monday after St. Swithin's-day. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £7, and in the patronage of the Bishop of London: the impropriate tithes, belonging to the landowners, have been commuted for £674, and the vicarial for £250; the glebe consists of 13 acres. A rent-charge of £59 is also paid to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. The church, beautifully situated near a pleasant green, is a spacious and venerable structure, in the Norman style. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans; and a school is endowed with about £15 per annum.
BENTLEY, HUNGRY, a liberty, in the parish of Longford, hundred of Appletree, S. division of the county of Derby, 5¾ miles (S.) from Ashbourn; containing 83 inhabitants. The manor belonged to Henry de Ferrars when the Domesday survey was taken; afterwards to the Blounts, lords Mountjoy; and more recently to the Browne and Wilmot families. The small village is about two miles west of the village of Longford. The vicarial tithes have been commuted for £67. 10. Here was a chapel, long since demolished.
Bentley, Little (St. Mary)
BENTLEY, LITTLE (St. Mary), a parish, in the union and hundred of Tendring, N. division of Essex, 8 miles (E.) from Colchester; containing 472 inhabitants. It comprises 2000a. 2r. 14p., of which 1660 acres are arable, 135 pasture, and 162 woodland. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £13, and in the patronage of Emmanuel College, Cambridge: the tithes have been commuted for £650, and there are 58 acres of glebe. The church is an ancient building, consisting of a nave, north aisle, and chancel, with a tower of stone. A chantry was founded by Sir John Le Gros. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans; and a school is partly supported by the rector.
BENTLEY-PAUNCEFOOT, a township, in the parish of Tardebigg, union of Bromsgrove, Upper division of the hundred of Halfshire, Droitwich and E. divisions of the county of Worcester, 3 miles (W. by S.) from Redditch; containing 238 inhabitants. It comprises 1587 acres, whereof two-thirds are arable, 70 acres woodland, and the rest pasture. The soil is partly light and partly a strong marl, and of full average fertility: the surface is elevated, moderately undulated, and well watered; and the scenery pleasing. The principal proprietor, and lord of the manors of Upper and Lower Bentley, is William Hemming, Esq., of Foxlydiate House, a handsome seat in the vicinity. Bentley Lodge is an elegant mansion, surrounded by fertile lawns, pleasant walks, and extensive drives. The township seems to have been formerly a distinct chapelry: in consequence of a dispute which arose between the parishioners, searches were made, and the ruins of the old chapel found. It was dedicated to St. Stephen.
BENTON, LITTLE, a township, in the parish of Long Benton, union of Tynemouth, E. division of Castle ward, S. division of Northumberland, 2½ miles (N. E.) from Newcastle; comprising an area of 573a. 3r. 10p., whereof 24 acres are common or waste. A part of the population is employed in Bigge's-main colliery. Benton Park mansion, originally built a century ago, and enlarged in 1769, came by purchase, in 1838, with 90 acres of demesne, into the possession of Mr. Potts, who has entirely re-beautified the interior. The vicarial tithes have been commuted for £9. 7., and those of corn and hay for £135. 17. In the park grounds is an old font, with the date 1069.
Benton, Long (St. Bartholomew)
BENTON, LONG (St. Bartholomew), a parish, in the union of Tynemouth, E. division of Castle ward, S. division of Northumberland, 3½ miles (N. E. by N.) from Newcastle-upon-Tyne; containing 8711 inhabitants, of whom 2451 are in the township of Long Benton. This parish is bounded on the south by the river Tyne, and intersected from east to west by the North Shields and Newcastle railway, and turnpike-road; it extends eight miles and a half from north to south, and at the widest point is about three in breadth. The whole comprises, with the townships of Weetsleet, Killingworth, Little Benton, and Walker, 8869a. 2r. 7p. The township of Long Benton, occupying about the middle of the parish, consists of 3301a. 35p., of which 85 acres are common or waste. On the banks of the river are various large manufactories, and staiths for shipping coal; and the district contains many extensive collieries, which are now nearly exhausted as respects coal for domestic purposes, though much remains applicable to steam-furnaces: in Weetsleet and Walker townships are some freestone-quarries. The village of Long Benton, consisting for the most part of one long street, is built upon a rock, in a pleasant and healthy situation. The living, a discharged vicarage valued in the king's books at £3. 1. 3., is in the gift of Balliol College, Oxford, in whose favour an impropriation was made, on the grant of Sir Philip Somervyle, in 1342. The corn and hay tithes have been commuted for about £1500, of which £687. 11. are derived from the township of Long Benton, and the vicarial tithes for £120, of which £52 are for the township; the glebe consists of about 80 acres. The church, which stands in a spacious burial-ground, a short distance north of the village, was rebuilt, with the exception of the chancel, in 1791. At Walker is a separate incumbency. There are several places of worship for dissenters. The Roman wall of Severus passed through the parish before its immediate termination at Wallsend: on the line of this wall was an ancient chapel, and another chapel is traditionally spoken of as having stood near Low Weetsleet; both have long since disappeared. Among the eminent persons connected with the place, may be named the celebrated Dr. Charles Hutton, and George Stephenson, the railway engineer, the former of whom, when a boy, worked in the pits at Long Benton colliery, and the latter was a brakesman at Killingworth colliery.
Bentworth (St. Mary)
BENTWORTH (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Alton, hundred of Odiham, Basingstoke and N. divisions of the county of Southampton, 4 miles (W.) from Alton; containing 609 inhabitants. On the loss of Normandy, Peter, Archbishop of Rouen, obtained license, in the 9th of Edward III., to alienate his manor of "Binterworth," which he held in free socage, to William de Melton, Archbishop of York. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £14. 10. 5., and in the gift of the Rev. Thomas Matthews: the tithes have been commuted for £907. 10., and the glebe comprises 90 acres with a house. George Withers, the poet, was born here in 1588.
BENWELL, a district chapelry comprising the township of Benwell and part of that of Elswick, in the parish of St. John, Newcastle, union of Newcastle, W. division of Castle ward, S. division of Northumberland; containing 2415 inhabitants, of whom 1433 are in the township of Benwell, 2½ miles (W.) from Newcastle. This place, anciently Benwall, or Bythe-Wall, the Roman wall having passed this way, is supposed to occupy the site of the Condercum of the Notitia. The township comprises by measurement 1074 acres, chiefly elevated land, rising gradually and beautifully from the Tyne; the soil is generally good, and being well cultivated produces abundant crops of corn and grass. The district abounds in coal and freestone. In the 17th century a seam of coal in the vicinity caught fire at a candle, and continued to burn for upwards of thirty years, bursting out in different places like a volcano. Various manufactories are situated on the low grounds near the Tyne. The road from Newcastle to Carlisle, and the Newcastle and Carlisle railway, pass through the township in nearly a parallel direction. The chapel, dedicated to St. James, stands conspicuously on an eminence near the centre of the district, and was erected in 1832, at an expense of £1665; it is a neat edifice in the Norman-English style, with a square tower. The patronage is vested in the Vicar of Newcastle; the net income is £150. The tithes of the township have been commuted for £89. 8. payable to the Bishop, a similar sum to the Dean and Chapter, of Carlisle, and £66. 1. 5. to the vicar, who has also a glebe of above 12 acres. There are places of worship for Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists.
BENWICK, a chapelry, in the parish of Doddington, union and hundred of North Witchford, Isle of Ely, county of Cambridge, 8¼ miles (S. W.) from March; containing 679 inhabitants. It comprises 3096 acres, of which 77 are common or waste. The chapel is dedicated to St. James. A rent-charge of £754. 13. 10. per annum has been awarded as a commutation in lieu of the tithes of Benwick.
Beoley (St. Leonard)
BEOLEY (St. Leonard), a parish, in the union of King's Norton, Upper division of the hundred of Pershore, Northfield and E. divisions of the county of Worcester, 2 miles (N. E.) from Redditch; containing 657 inhabitants. It belonged successively to the noble families of Mortimer, Beauchamp, and Holland, of whose ancient castle the mound and moat still remain; and in the reign of Charles I. the manor was the property of Ralph Sheldon, a distinguished royalist, whose mansion was burned by the family themselves, to prevent its falling into the possession of the parliamentarians. The parish is on the borders of Warwickshire, and is intersected at its eastern extremity by the road from Birmingham to Alcester. It comprises 4489a. 3r. 3p., mostly arable and woodland, with a small quantity of pasture; the surface is hilly, and the scenery beautifully picturesque. The population is employed in straightening needles in the rough, and in agriculture. The village of Holt-End, in the parish, is situated in a vale, five and a half miles north-west of Henley-inArden. Beoley Hall, surrounded by groves and lawns, was formerly a place of great consequence. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £7. 16. 10½.; patron and impropriator, W. Holmes, Esq.: the vicarial tithes have been commuted for £69, and the glebe comprises 4 acres. The church, an ancient structure situated on elevated ground, consists of a nave, chancel, and two aisles, with a square tower; the chancel is Norman, and the body early English: it was repewed in 1844-5, and 75 sittings gained, all of which are free. Attached to the church is the chapel of "Our Lady," formerly a private chapel of the Sheldon family, to whom it has a very handsome monument: underneath the chapel is the vault. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans at Holt-End, erected in 1836; and connected with the church is a Sunday school, at which from 90 to 100 pupils attend.
Bepton, or Bebton
BEPTON, or BEBTON, a parish, in the union of Midhurst, hundred of Easebourne, rape of Chichester, W. division of Sussex, 2¾ miles (S. W.) from Midhurst; containing 207 inhabitants. The parish comprises a portion of the South Downs, and part of it is comprehended within the borough of Midhurst. It contains by estimation 1098 acres, of which 312 are arable, 434 meadow and pasture, 100 woodland, and 252 common and down land. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £8, and in the gift of the family of Poyntz: the tithes have been commuted for £140, and the glebe comprises 20 acres. The church consists of a nave and chancel, and is in the early English style.
Berdon (St. Nicholas)
BERDON (St. Nicholas), a parish, in the union of Bishop-Stortford, hundred of Clavering, N. division of Essex, 5 miles (S. W.) from Newport; containing 391 inhabitants. It is on the east borders of the county of Hertford, and comprises 1771a. 3r. 37p.; the soil, which is chiefly strong and heavy, is in some parts light, but generally fertile. An act for inclosing lands was obtained in 1838, at which time 13 acres were appropriated for the recreation of the inhabitants. The living is a perpetual curacy, till lately annexed to the vicarage of Ugley: the tithes are impropriate in the patrons, the Governors of Christ's Hospital, and have been commuted for £360. The church is an ancient edifice. A priory of Augustine canons was founded in the reign of Henry III., the revenue of which at the Dissolution amounted to £35. 5. 1¼. The Rev. Joseph Mede, a learned commentator on the Book of Revelation, was born here in 1586.
Bere-Church (St. Michael)
BERE-CHURCH (St. Michael), a parish, in the union, and within the liberties of the borough, of Colchester, N. division of Essex, 2¼ miles (S. by W.) from Colchester; containing 146 inhabitants. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £100; patron and impropriator, Sir G. H. Smyth, Bart., of Bere-Church Hall, to whose family, and to Lord Audley, there are monuments in the church.
Bergh-Apton (St. Peter and St. Paul)
BERGH-APTON (St. Peter and St. Paul), a parish, in the union of Loddon and Clavering, hundred of Clavering, E. division of Norfolk, 7½ miles (S. E.) from Norwich; containing 564 inhabitants. It comprises 1938a. 3r. 21p.; and was formerly two parishes, Bergh and Apton. The living is a rectory, to which a mediety of the rectory of Holveston is annexed, valued in the king's books at £13. 6. 8., and in the gift of the Earl of Abergavenny: the tithes have been commuted for £585, and the glebe comprises 48 acres, with a handsome house attached. The church, situated on an eminence, is a neat cruciform structure, enlarged in 1838. There is a town estate, consisting of 60 acres, which lets for £80, applied to general purposes; also a poor's estate, comprising 23 acres, which lets for £26 per annum. A church existed at Apton, dedicated to St. Martin, but there are no remains of it.
Bergholt, East (St. Mary)
BERGHOLT, EAST (St. Mary), a parish, in the incorporation and hundred of Samford, E. division of Suffolk, 3½ miles (N. W.) from Manningtree; containing 1461 inhabitants. This place, the name of which implies "Wooded Hill," comprises 3063a. 2r. 34p. It is pleasantly situated in the most cultivated part of the county, on a spot overlooking the fertile valley of the Stour; and the vicinity is remarkable for the beauty of its gentle declivities, luxuriant meadows, well-tilled uplands, and woods and streams: the river Stour forms the southern boundary of the parish. The Knights Templars had a manor here. The living is a rectory, consolidated with that of Brantham: the tithes have been commuted for £820, and there are 20½ acres of glebe. The church is a large and handsome edifice, of which the steeple was never finished. There is a place of worship for Independents. Lettice Dykes, in 1589, gave property, now producing about £40 per annum, to endow a free school, which was built by subscription on land given by Edward Lamb. John Constable, the distinguished painter, was born here in 1776; and of the scenery of the neighbourhood he used often to speak, as having made him an artist.
Bergholt, West (St. Mary)
BERGHOLT, WEST (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Lexden and Winstree, Colchester division of the hundred of Lexden, N. division of Essex, 3½ miles (N. W.) from Colchester; containing 822 inhabitants. It comprises 2274a. 18p., of which 1733 acres are arable, 119 pasture, 108 wood, and 312 common or waste. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £10; net income, £454; patron, William Fisher, Esq. The church is an ancient edifice, consisting of a nave and south aisle separated by massive pillars, and a chancel, with a wooden turret surmounted by a shingled spire. A chantry was founded here in 1331, by J. De Bures, for a priest to officiate at the altar of the Virgin Mary. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans.
Berkeley (St. Mary)
BERKELEY (St. Mary), a market-town and parish, in the union of Thornbury, Upper division of the hundred of Berkeley, W. division of the county of Gloucester, 17 miles (S. W.) from Gloucester, 19 (N. E.) from Bristol, and 114 (W. by N.) from London; comprising the tythings of Alkington, Breadstone, Ham, Hamfallow, and Hinton, and the chapelry of Stone; and containing 4405 inhabitants. This place, according to Sir Robert Atkyns, the historian of Gloucestershire, derives its name from the Saxon Beorc, a birch-tree, and Leas, a pasture; whence it has been inferred that the parish was formerly remarkable for the growth of birch-trees. From the fertility of the soil, and its contiguity to the river Severn, it was always a place of considerable importance; and at a very early period it gave name to the great manor of Berkeley, which during the heptarchy was held of the crown, at £500. 17. 2. per annum, by Roger de Berkeley, a near relative of Edward the Confessor, and lord of Dursley, from whom the earliest authentic pedigree of the Berkeley family is deduced. Berkeley, notwithstanding the residence of the oldest branches of the family in their castle at Dursley, was a market-town; and had a nunnery endowed with the large manor. The time of the foundation of this establishment, and the name of the founder, are not known; but its suppression, prior to the Conquest, was effected by the perfidious avarice of Earl Godwin, who, in order to obtain its ample revenues, introduced his nephew into the convent for the purpose of seducing the sisterhood, and, on the accomplishment of the design, artfully reporting to his sovereign the state of the establishment, procured its dissolution, and was rewarded for his treachery with a grant of its lands. A few years afterwards, William the Conqueror, professing high regard for all the relatives of Edward the Confessor, granted the manor of Berkeley to Roger Berkeley, of Dursley, by whose descendants it was held till the reign of Henry II., when, refusing to pay the feefarm rent, and also taking part with Stephen, they were dispossessed by the former monarch, who bestowed the manor upon Robert Fitzhardinge, the descendant of a younger son of the king of Denmark, and at that time mayor of Bristol, who, being a man of great wealth, materially assisted Henry in his contest with Stephen. Fitz-Hardinge, however, was so greatly annoyed in his new possession by the Berkeleys of Dursley, that Henry II. interfered to make peace, which he ultimately effected by arranging a marriage between Maurice, son of Robert Fitz-Hardinge, and the daughter of Roger de Berkeley, upon which the former assumed the name of Berkeley. From this union descended the present family of Berkeley; the male issue of the Berkeleys of Dursley became extinct in 1382.
The castle, erected during this reign, at the southeast end of the town, out of the ruins of the ancient nunnery, was considerably enlarged by successive proprietors in the reigns of Edward II. and III., and became one of the principal baronial seats in the kingdom. It has been connected with many transactions of intense political interest, and in the reign of John was one of the places of rendezvous for the confederate barons, who extorted from that monarch the grant of Magna Charta. Edward II. after his deposition was detained a prisoner in the castle under the alternate custody of Lords Berkeley, Montravers, and Gournay; and, during the illness of the first, by whom he had always been treated with kindness and humanity, was barbarously murdered by the two latter: the room and bed in which the murder was perpetrated are still shown to persons visiting the castle. During the reigns of Henry VI. and Edward IV. the town suffered materially from the attacks of the Earl of Warwick, who, in right of his wife, laid claim to the castle, of which he endeavoured to obtain possession by force; and in the civil war of the 17th century, being garrisoned for the king, it was besieged by the parliamentarians, to whom, after a vigorous resistance of nine days, it was compelled to surrender. The castle and estates are now the property of Earl Fitz-Hardinge, to whom they were devised by his father, the late Earl of Berkeley. The castle occupies a site nearly circular in form. The entrance from the outer into the inner court is through a massive arched portal, on the left of which is the keep, a fine specimen of Norman military architecture, containing the dungeon chamber, without either window or chimney, in which Edward II. was confined; in the floor is an opening to the dungeon, which is twenty-eight feet deep. The great hall was built in the reign of Edward III.
The town is situated on a gentle eminence in the beautiful vale of Berkeley, at the distance of two miles from the river Severn, the tides of which, flowing up the Berkeley Avon, render it navigable to the town for vessels of forty or fifty tons' burthen. At present, the place consists only of two streets irregularly built, the principal of which is well paved and contains a few good houses: the surrounding scenery is pleasing; and the ancient castle, which has been partly modernised as the residence of Earl Fitz-Hardinge, forms an interesting feature in the landscape. The trade is principally in coal, which is brought from the Forest of Dean, by the rivers Severn and Avon, for the supply of the neighbourhood. The Berkeley and Gloucester ship canal joins the Severn at Sharpness Point, in the parish, at the distance of two miles from the town, where are the harbour and entrance locks, esteemed one of the finest pieces of masonry in the kingdom; the canal, for nearly a mile, is separated from the rapid flow of the Severn only by a high and massive wall. The Gloucester and Bristol railway passes near the town, on the east, where a station is fixed. The parish is the largest in the county, being twenty-seven miles in circumference, and comprising about 14,000 acres; it contains some fine pasture, and there are extensive dairies, from which is produced the celebrated Berkeley cheese: an act for inclosing the waste lands, was passed in 1839. The market, which is inconsiderable, is on Tuesday; and fairs are held on May 14th and Dec. 1st.: a handsome market-house was erected in 1825. The corporation still exists, by prescription, but has scarcely any municipal functions; it consists of a mayor and twelve aldermen, who appoint a serjeant-atmace, constables, and other officers. The county magistrates hold a petty-session every alternate Tuesday.
The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £32. 15. 7½.; patron, Earl Fitz-Hardinge; appropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Bristol. The great tithes have been commuted for £985. 10., and the vicarial for £749. 10.; there are 7 acres of glebe annexed to the vicarage, and one acre belonging to the Dean and Chapter. The church is a spacious structure, partly in the later Norman and partly in the early English style, and though greatly altered, still retains some portion of its original character; the tower, which is detached, has been rebuilt within the last century. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans. The free school was founded in 1696, by Samuel Turner, who endowed it with land producing a rental of £38: which endowment was augmented with lands purchased with money given by Mr. John Smith and the Countess of Berkeley, in 1717, and now let for £17 per annum. John Attwood, in 1626, bequeathed to the poor some land, which, together with three acres given by Thomas Machin in 1630, yields a rental of £40; and there are various other charitable benefactions. Edward Jenner, M.D. and F.R.S., who introduced the practice of vaccination, was born here in 1742; and his remains were deposited in the church.
Berkeswell (St John the Baptist)
BERKESWELL (St John the Baptist), a parish, in the union of Meriden, Solihull division of the hundred of Hemlingford, N. division of the county of Warwick, 2 miles (S. by W.) from Meriden; containing 1504 inhabitants. This place is supposed to derive its name from a copious and powerful spring, which, at a short distance from its source, turns a mill. The parish comprises by measurement 5902 acres: the surface is flat, and the soil partly strong clay, and partly light earth; sandstone is found. The London and Birmingham railroad intersects the parish, and passes within half a mile through a tunnel 300 yards long; the river Blythe partly bounds the parish on the west, and it is likewise crossed from south to north by the road between Kenilworth and Coleshill. The living is a rectory, with the living of Barston annexed, valued in the king's books at £14. 12. 6., and in the gift of Col. Disbrowe: the tithes have been commuted for £795, and the glebe comprises 63 acres. The church is an ancient structure, originally in the Norman style, of which the chancel still remains a specimen; the nave and tower are later English: under the chancel is a handsome crypt. Certain lands in the parish are charged, by a recent order of the Lord Chancellor, with the payment of £50 per annum for a schoolmaster; and there are considerable funds for the benefit of the poor, of which the churchwarden and rector are trustees.