A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 10, Munslow Hundred (Part), the Liberty and Borough of Wenlock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1998.
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The small rural parish of Beckbury lies on the Shropshire–Staffordshire border c. 6 km. south of Shifnal. In the Middle Ages (perhaps from the 12th century) (fn. 1) and until 1905 it formed, with the adjoining parish of Badger, a detached part of Hereford diocese, (fn. 2) and it is possible that the two parishes were once a single estate. (fn. 3)
Beckbury (Becca's burh or house) (fn. 4) is bounded on the west partly by the river Worfe and its tributary Mad brook; in the centre of the western side of the parish, however, the boundary turns west to include land on the right bank of the Worfe. On the east the boundary is Snowdon brook, which rises near the north-eastern corner of the parish (called 'the marshes' in the early 19th century) (fn. 5) and has had several other names. Beckbury's northern boundary partly follows a tributary of the Worfe flowing from Denton pool (mentioned 1585) and partly the Ryton–Whiston road. Beckbury's southern boundary, with Badger, follows no natural features and required clarification in 1229. (fn. 6) The early 19th-century parish and manor were conterminous. (fn. 7)
The parish covers 545 ha. (1,346 a.) (fn. 8) and extends c. 2 km. from north to south and a maximum of 3.5 km. from west to east. Beckbury village lies on the western slope of Wall or Hine Hill, (fn. 9) a low north–south ridge of Keuper sandstone occupying the western half of the parish and rising to over 90 m. (fn. 10) West of the ridge is Upper Mottled Sandstone and some sand and gravel, and to the east boulder clay and sand and gravel, with peat along Snowdon brook. (fn. 11)
From Beckbury village a minor road, mentioned in 1285, (fn. 12) runs north to Albrighton and to Shifnal via Ryton, and others run east to Burnhill Green (Staffs.), south to Badger, southwest to Higford, and west via Harrington to the Wellington–Worcester road. The last was turnpiked in 1764 with the Shropshire part of the main road (fn. 13) and disturnpiked in 1867. (fn. 14)
There was prehistoric or Roman occupation on the (western) boundary with Sutton Maddock. (fn. 15) In the early 19th century fields called Golden hill and Urn field, north of Beckbury on the west side of the Shifnal road, were assumed to be named from 'antiquarian curiosities' found there, (fn. 16) but no such finds are recorded. Until 1840 there was a mound in Windmill field; it was then believed to be a barrow but was probably made as a windmill mound. (fn. 17)
On a hill top south of the church is an amphitheatre c. 30 m. in diameter, surrounded by a tall holly hedge and entered through opposing gates; in the centre is a raised circular platform c. 4 m. across. In 1839 it was described as a garden to Beckbury Hall. The garden was probably made in the 18th century, with a temple or summer house on the platform. Though it became known as the cockpit, it is unlikely that cocks were matched there. (fn. 18)
Around the church by the later Middle Ages there was probably a nucleated settlement, the present village, amid open fields. About 1 km. north-east of the village was the freehold property eventually known as Heath House, on the edge of a broad expanse of heath running down the eastern side of the parish. In the south-east corner of the parish was Snowdon pool, a large fishpond created before 1255. (fn. 19) Snowdon was mentioned as a member of Patshull (Staffs.) manor in 1279. (fn. 20)
Beckbury's oldest houses are the Hall and the White House, both 16th- or 17th-century though later remodelled. Cheriton Cottage and Church Farm are 17th-century, and there are several 18th-century barns. Between 1752 and the mid 20th century the village altered little in size or plan, though there are some 19th-century buildings: Quarry House (early 19th century), a pair of estate cottages (mid century) in Caynton Road, and the school (1852). (fn. 21)
In the 18th century drinking water came from a well on Wall Hill. A second source, Fulwell, lay south-east of the village. By the 1730s some private wells had been sunk, (fn. 22) and by the late 19th century the Capel Cures' tenants had piped water, a supply that was extended to the rest of the village c. 1910. (fn. 23) In 1938 Wenlock Corporation opened a borehole and pumping station at Beckbury. (fn. 24)
After the Second World War the village grew considerably, especially northwards, as private and council houses were built, though there was no street lighting in 1952. (fn. 25) It was made a conservation area in 1981. (fn. 26) Snowdon Farm, at the north end of Snowdon pool in 1752, was rebuilt west of the pool c. 1810. The pool itself was drained in the 1850s. (fn. 27)
Eleven men from Beckbury and Badger were mustered in 1542. (fn. 28) In 1642 the Protestation was taken by all 36 men of the parish. (fn. 29) In 1672 hearth tax was paid by 19 householders. (fn. 30) In 1676 there were 25 adults in the parish. (fn. 31) There were 31 houses in the parish in 1732, (fn. 32) and by 1801 the population was 231. It rose to 307 in 1831 and remained at that level until the end of the century. It fell to 262 in 1921 but after the Second World War it rose again and was 372 in 1951 and 367 in 1981. (fn. 33)
In the 1630s or thereabouts John Wilde, victualler and alehouse keeper, lived in a house that had been an alehouse for forty years and was recommended as the best man in Beckbury to be licensed. (fn. 34) Ale sellers were mentioned occasionally in the late 17th century. (fn. 35) The Seven Stars, open by 1846, was presumably one of the two beerhouses noted in 1851. Thereafter, as in 1985, it was the village's only pub. (fn. 36) The Oddfellows had a Prince of Wales lodge and owned four cottages in the village by 1910. (fn. 37) A recreation and reading room was built in 1889 at Col. Alfred Capel Cure's expense; in 1891 the room's secretary was a blacksmith. About 1930 the room became the village hall. (fn. 38) The county library established a voluntary book centre in the village in 1926. (fn. 39)
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
In 1086 Roger of Montgomery, earl of Shrewsbury, held Beckbury in chief, (fn. 42) but his son Earl Robert presumably forfeited it with the rest of his English estates in 1102. (fn. 43) Roger the huntsman (venator) had held Beckbury under Earl Roger in 1086, (fn. 44) and the huntsman's estates went to form the barony of Pulverbatch. (fn. 45) About 1240 John of Beckbury, lord of the manor of Beckbury, was coparcener in a knight's fee held of the baron of Pulverbatch, but that holding is said to have been in Pulverbatch (fn. 46) and no certain post-Domesday connexion between Beckbury and the barony of Pulverbatch is known. Instead Beckbury is recorded as being held of the FitzAlans between the 13th and the 16th centuries. In 1242–3 John of Beckbury, whose predecessor, Hugh of Beckbury, had witnessed a FitzAlan charter c. 1196, held 1/8 knight's fee in Beckbury of John FitzAlan (II), baron of Oswestry (fn. 47) and John's overlord at Golding. (fn. 48) The FitzAlans' overlordship (fn. 49) of Beckbury was recorded again in 1348 (fn. 50) and 1595. (fn. 51)
Wenlock priory had established a tenurial hold by 1120, and in 1255 the manor was simply said to be held of the prior for 25s. a year, the rent specified as due to the priory in 1120 and paid to the priory until the Dissolution. (fn. 52) Thereafter a fee-farm rent was evidently due to the Crown until Mrs. Elizabeth Browne, lady of the manor, redeemed it, then £1 8s. 6d. a year, in 1828. (fn. 53)
In 1086 an unnamed man-at-arms (miles) was paying 20d., perhaps as rent for the manor. (fn. 54) A certain Reynold held 1 hide (the Domesday assessment of the manor) in Beckbury and in 1120, after his death, Wenlock priory granted his Beckbury land, his widow, and the wardship of his son to Walter son of Warin for 15 years for 25s. a year payable on the feast of St. Mildburg. (fn. 55)
Hugh of Beckbury (fl. 1190) was lord of Beckbury c. 1220. (fn. 56) He died in 1226 or 1227 and his heir John of Beckbury (d. 1248 X 1254) seems to have succeeded him there for John's son Philip (fl. 1292) was in possession by 1255. (fn. 57) John of Beckbury, lord in 1316, (fn. 58) was perhaps John of Beckbury, son and heir of Philip of Beckbury (fn. 59) and lord in 1347 (fn. 60) and 1351. In 1351 John settled the manor on his daughter Parnel and her husband Thomas de la Lowe. (fn. 61) Beckbury descended in that family and passed to the Greys of Whittington (Staffs.). The Greys also held Enville (Staffs.), with which Beckbury apparently descended in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 62) In 1674 Henry Grey sold Beckbury to Thomas Kynnersley (fn. 63) (d. 1680), lord of Badger, and thereafter the two manors descended together. (fn. 64)
The lords of Badger held an estate in Beckbury; like Badger it formed part of the barony of Richard's Castle and a mesne lordship was mentioned c. 1200. Later, however, like the manors of Badger and Beckbury it was said to be held of the prior of Wenlock. In the later 12th century Philip of Badger held 1 hide in Beckbury and in 1196, shortly before his death, he surrendered half of it to Ralph de Herleton. The half remaining to him passed to his son Roger of Badger and was said c. 1200 to be held of Philip of Greete, tenant of other estates in the barony of Richard's Castle. After Roger's death in the earlier 1220s his younger son Philip held the Beckbury estate under his older brother Thomas of Badger, lord of Badger. Probably in 1227 Philip, about to go on crusade, sold his estate to Thomas (fn. 65) and thereafter it evidently descended with the manor of Badger until the early 16th century. (fn. 66) John Petit (d. 1501), lord of Badger, had two messuages and two virgates in Beckbury worth £4 a year and held of the prior of Wenlock. (fn. 67) They passed to his son Thomas (d. 1504) who was succeeded by his brother Henry. Half a virgate of that land then formed a separate tenement, variously held by Richard the chaplain (probably in the late 15th century), Thomas of Badger (to 1506), Reynold de Penhill (from 1506), Roger Beston (to 1530), and Richard and Elizabeth Ascall (from 1530). (fn. 68)
By 1541 the two messuages inherited by Petit in 1504 had perhaps passed to the Haughtons. (fn. 69) John Haughton of Beckbury greatly enlarged his estate in the parish in 1585 when he bought the manor house, demesne lands, and rights in the Worfe between Denton pool and Badger wood from his kinsman John Grey, lord of the manor. (fn. 70) On Haughton's death in 1595 his estate included the manor house and two other messuages. They were all said (probably erroneously) once to have belonged to John Grey as of his manor of Beckbury. (fn. 71) John Haughton was succeeded by his son Roger (fl. 1623), whose son and heir was called Francis. (fn. 72) In 1668 William Haughton probably owned the estate. (fn. 73) About then it was sold to Richard Astley of Patshull (cr. bt. 1662, d. 1688). Sir Richard's son Sir John (d. 1772) left the estate to F. D. Astley, who sold his estate in Beckbury to Dr. Thomas Wyndham, (fn. 74) owner of BECKBURY HALL and 353 a. in the parish in 1837. (fn. 75) In 1850 Wyndham sold the Hall and 68 a. to Walter Stubbs, owner of Lower Hall, with which it was bought by William Stubbs. In 1896 William Stubbs's executrix Miss E. M. Stubbs sold Beckbury Hall with 14 a. to Lt.-Col. Lionel Tillotson; (fn. 76) Tillotson sold it in 1907 to Lt.-Col. A. C. Yate (d. 1929). (fn. 77) His son A. C. McC. Yate lived at Beckbury Hall until c. 1934 (fn. 78) and Lt.Col. H. P. Sykes from c. 1936 until his death in 1942. (fn. 79) His widow Mrs. W. C. J. Sykes remained there until her death in 1955, (fn. 80) and the Hall was bought c. 1956 by E. H. Browne (kt. 1964), mining engineer and businessman. Sir Humphrey re mained the owner in 1985. (fn. 81) By 1910 the rest of the former Wyndham estate was part of the manorial estate of Francis Capel Cure. (fn. 82)
Beckbury Hall is a 16th- or early 17th-century timber framed house, perhaps originally comprising hall and cross wing. It was bricked up in the early 18th century and extended in the later 19th. (fn. 83)
A term of three lives in Beckbury Hall and in an estate in the parish was given by Sir Richard Astley to his daughter Ann on her marriage with Walter Stubbs (d. 1697). It was probably their son Walter (d. 1754) who bought LOWER HALL, on the south-west edge of the village. He bought other lands in the parish: six inclosed pieces of heath in 1712, 30 a. in 1726, a house called the Heath in 1727, and the 82-a. Heath House estate in 1734. The estate passed from father to son the following being owners: Walter (d. 1766), Walter (d. 1815), and Walter who, in 1837, owned Lower Hall and 18 a. in the parish. After the last named died in 1865 his trustees sold Lower Hall to his brother William (d. 1879). In 1880 William's mortgagees sold Lower Hall with 26 a. to Alfred Capel Cure. (fn. 84) The owner of Lower Hall in 1910 was Mary Ann Cartwright. (fn. 85)
Lower Hall is a small timber framed house of the 16th and 17th centuries.
In 1761 Humphrey Pitt of Priorslee owned two farms (179 a.) in Beckbury, (fn. 86) probably part of the former Haughton estate and including HEATH HOUSE, so known by the early 17th century. (fn. 87) That year Pitt settled three quarters of his property on three of his daughters. He died in 1769 and when his coheirs divided the estate in 1782 his daughter Mrs. Maria Edwards received the Beckbury property. Mrs. Edwards (fl. 1787, d.s.p. by 1800) left it to her American brother-in-law W. J. Yonge until his son Henry came of age, when it was to become his. (fn. 88) The Yonges built CAYNTON HOUSE on the estate in 1803. (fn. 89)
It seems that Henry Yonge (d. 1833), an army officer and evidently a spendthrift, sold the estate to Capt. William Horton (d. 1844), who in 1837 owned 293 a. in the parish including Heath House and Caynton. The estate was up for sale in 1850; it was probably then that it was acquired by the family of William Legge, earl of Dartmouth (d. 1853), who in 1848 had bought the adjoining Patshull estate. In 1856 the owner of Caynton House was his brother Col. (later Gen.) A. C. Legge. Legge died in 1890 and in 1941 the estate belonged to the trustees of his daughter-in-law Mrs. L. A. G. Legge (d. 1931). (fn. 90) By 1948 Caynton Hall belonged to D. G. Hann who sold it c. 1957 to Philip Trevor-Jones. (fn. 91)
Caynton House, or Hall, was built by the Yonges in 1803, (fn. 92) perhaps on the site of a late 18th-century farmhouse called Dennetts Hays (or Dennetts Heys). (fn. 93) Caynton was reputedly styled on an earlier residence of W. J. Yonge's, perhaps Pirbright Lodge (Surr.). Elements of the design are also claimed to have been inspired by mansions in the southern states of North America. The building, of seven bays and two storeys, has a low-pitched slate roof. Office and stable blocks are connected to both sides of the house by arcades. The north (entrance) facade has a projecting centre bow with colonnade. To the rear is a semicircular pillared portico, off which opens a circular hall rising the full height of the house. Caynton was altered in the 1850s by Col. Legge, (fn. 94) and again in the 1960s when a second bay to the south was added, the hall extended east to give a balanced effect, and the stables renovated. The house was divided into three c. 1977. (fn. 95)
Cut into a disused quarry 250 m. west of the house is a small neo-Romanesque grotto with irregular ambulatories opening into inner sanctuaries. It is locally reputed to have been made by Gen. Legge but could be older. In the early 1980s it seemed to be in use for black magic rituals. (fn. 96)
Heath House, 1 km. north-east of the village, is a large brick house of 1957. It replaced a three storeyed brick house, perhaps early 19th-century, demolished in the early 1970s. (fn. 97)
In the mid 18th century Richard Fowler (d. c. 1774) owned a messuage and yardland. He was succeeded briefly by his widow. (fn. 98) In the mid 19th century Dr. Richard Fowler was a principal landowner in the parish, (fn. 99) and in 1910 a Miss Fowler owned 88 a., including QUARRY FARM (56 a.) (fn. 100) whose house, later Quarry House, is an early 19th-century brick building.
In the earlier 19th century Thomas Whitmore (d. 1846) of Apley Park bought c. 117 a. in the parish, formerly part of the Haughtons' and Astleys' estate and including BROOK FARM. W. O. Foster bought the Whitmore estate in 1867 and his great-grandson Brig. Cuthbert Goulburn was owner in 1985. (fn. 101)
Before 1254 St. Leonard's priory (White Ladies), Brewood, was given the rent from two mills in Beckbury. In that year, after a dispute, the new lord of the manor, Philip of Beckbury, undertook to pay 1 mark a year. The canonesses still derived income from Beckbury at the Dissolution. (fn. 102)
Thomas Acton (d. 1514), of Longnor, endowed a chantry in Condover church out of lands in Beckbury and elsewhere. (fn. 103)
Beckbury's open fields lay north, east, and south of the village. The three fields, known after the Middle Ages as Marsh, Wood, and Depdale fields, were inclosed by the early 18th century. (fn. 104) In 1732 the arable, c. 14 yardlands c. 1768, (fn. 105) was 'mostly rye land'. (fn. 106) Beckbury was well supplied with meadows along the Worfe, some of them common. (fn. 107) The eastern third of the parish was mainly heath. (fn. 108) It was presumably there that the rector had the right c. 1600 to pasture 50 sheep and some young beasts. (fn. 109) As in Badger, the heath may have been inclosed in the 17th century; it certainly was by 1712. (fn. 110) Reinvasion by gorse, however, remained a problem in 1800. (fn. 111) West of the Worfe was wet moor. (fn. 112) In the late 18th century some flax was grown. (fn. 113) Most farm work was done by contract between farmers and labourers. At 1s. a day with beer labourers' wages were low; they were supplemented by I. H. Browne, who gave weekly doles of 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. to those who attended church. (fn. 114)
In 1801 the main arable crops were barley, wheat, and turnips. (fn. 115) In 1839 over four fifths of the parish was arable, (fn. 116) but by 1867 there was more grassland than arable. Thereafter the proportion of arable recovered, and in 1965 the amount of arable was close to early 19th-century levels. The proportion of wheat fell while that of barley rose, with oats being quite widely grown in the parish in the late 19th and early 20th century. From the late 19th century about a quarter of the land was usually given over to root crops. Until after the Second World War sheep were by far the most widely kept livestock, but thereafter their numbers declined as pig-keeping increased.
Sources: P.R.O., MAF 68/143, no. 9; /1340, no. 12; /3880, Salop. no. 177; /4945, no. 177.
Three areas of woodland survived until the later 18th or early 19th century: (fn. 117) Ellston (or Elslow) wood in the south-west adjoining Badger wood, Beckbury wood west of Snowdon pool on the Badger boundary, and a wood east of Beckbury village.
Snowdon pool, created before 1255 as a fishpond, belonged to the lord of Patshull by the early 15th century. In good repair in the 17th century, the pool was drained in the 1850s and planted with trees. (fn. 118) There was perhaps a weir on the Worfe north of Higford (in Stockton). (fn. 119)
There was a mill at Beckbury c. 1200, (fn. 120) perhaps on the Worfe near Mill croft, due west of the village. (fn. 121) White Ladies priory had the rent from two mills in Beckbury by 1254. (fn. 122) There was probably a windmill before the early 19th century. (fn. 123)
In 1732 fluor metallorum, probably the smelting flux fluorspar, was got in the parish, presumably from the local sandstone. (fn. 124) A family of ropemakers worked in Beckbury in the mid 18th century. (fn. 125) In the later 19th century Beck bury was a thriving village with half a dozen food shops; usually there were also at least one blacksmith, a wheelwright, a plumber, a builder, a draper, and a shoemaker. In 1941 there were four food shops, a carpenter, and a wheelwright, (fn. 126) but in the later 20th century the number of shops and services declined.
Beckbury manor court rolls survive from 1415, when it was mainly grazing offences that were presented, and 1774. The record of a court of recognition of c. 1400 also survives. (fn. 127)
The office of churchwarden (only one usually being appointed by the 1760s) was served by householders in rotation according to ancient custom. In 1768, when one man served as both churchwarden and parish constable, his activities were financed by a levy of 8s. per yardland; (fn. 128) by the early 19th century, however, properties were rated. (fn. 129) In 1711 the parish overseers rented a cottage for use as a poorhouse. (fn. 130) Between 1744, from when regular accounts survive, until the early 19th century, there was one overseer, appointed annually. Between the 1740s and early 1770s c. £8 was raised each year and disbursed, as later, in cash, clothing, and coal. From 1774 expenditure rose rapidly, to £38 in 1785. It then fell, before rising again in the early 1790s to peak several times in the post-war period: £214 was spent in 1814, (fn. 131) £290 10s. in 1817, and £232 7s. in 1824. (fn. 132) Between 1812 and 1815 about a dozen adults usually received permanent out-relief and another 4 or 5 occasional relief. (fn. 133)
Beckbury was in Shifnal poor-law union 1836–1930, (fn. 134) Bridgnorth highway district 1863– 95, (fn. 135) Shifnal rural sanitary district 1872–94, Shifnal rural district 1894–1974, and Bridgnorth district from 1974. (fn. 136)
The incumbent was described as rector in 1279, (fn. 137) though the church was often called a chapel in the earlier 14th century and perhaps later. By 1303 the lord of the manor nominated each new incumbent to the prior of Wenlock (or to the king when the priory was in his hands as an alien house), who presented him to the bishop. An incoming rector had to covenant to pay a pension of 3s. to the priory, and after the Dissolution the pension was part of an annual rent paid by the lord to the Crown, which presented to the living. The lord's right of nomination seems to have lapsed after 1695, perhaps in 1724. Payment of the 3s. ceased in 1872. (fn. 138) The lord chancellor was patron by 1879. (fn. 139) The living was held in plurality with those of Badger and Ryton from 1956. (fn. 140)
The church, worth less than £4 a year in 1291, was valued at £3 18s. in 1379, £4 in 1426, and £5 6s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 141) About 1600 the glebe comprised 16 a. of arable and common for 50 sheep and some young beasts. (fn. 142) About 1708 the living was worth £49. (fn. 143) In 1839 the tithes were commuted to £333. (fn. 144) In 1851 the rector received £321 from tithe rent charges and £41 from 31 a. of glebe. (fn. 145) Glebe of c. 26 a. was being let in 1990. (fn. 146)
About 1600 the parsonage was of two bays and had a barn and sheepcote. (fn. 147) The house, east of the church, was in good repair in the early 18th century (fn. 148) but was evidently unfit for the successor of H. R. Smythe (d. 1882) until enlarged and improved in 1891. (fn. 149) It was sold in 1955 and a new one was built to the south. (fn. 150)
Rectors' names in the later 13th and 14th century suggest that they were local men. (fn. 151) Thomas Gwilliam, rector from 1571 until 1607 or later, was also rector of Badger. (fn. 152) William James, rector 1661–98, was said in 1672 to be a 'railer and quarreller' who was not ordained, qualified, or instituted. (fn. 153) Thomas Green, rector 1698–1724, apparently resided; he conducted two Sunday services, one with sermon, and then, as usually in the 18th and 19th centuries, communion was celebrated five times a year. (fn. 154) John Fayle, rector 1754–78, was also rector of Barrow and Willey. (fn. 155)
By the mid 18th century and until the later 19th the employment of a curate was usual; the curate 1757–60 and in 1766 was Jonathan Stubbs (d. 1789), a younger son of Walter Stubbs (d. 1754). (fn. 156) For most, if not all, of the incumbency of the pluralist William Bates, rector 1824–50, the cure was served by R. P. Thursfield. (fn. 157) H. R. Smythe, rector 1850–82, lived in Shifnal in 1851 and spent time in Italy in 1852; (fn. 158) for much of the 1850s and 1860s he was absent because of illness (fn. 159) and employed curates, who lived at the rectory. (fn. 160) On Census Sunday 1851 morning service was attended by 40 adults, evening service by 30; 15 children attended both. (fn. 161) Girls were paid to sing in church in 1835. By 1866 the church had a harmonium. (fn. 162)
The church of ST. MILBURGA, so dedicated by c. 1740, (fn. 163) comprises chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north porch, and west tower. The chancel is probably early 14th-century and has east, north, and south windows of that date. (fn. 164) At the west ends of the side walls are also cusped lancets above blocked low side windows, the southern one retaining its external iron bars and recesses for a bolt.
After a brief was issued in 1731 (fn. 165) a new nave and tower were built. The old nave was probably small with only one (north) entrance. (fn. 166) The new nave was of red ashlar sandstone with rusticated quoins and had two semicircular headed windows on each side. The two-stage tower has a pyramidal roof and a Gibbs doorway on the west. Round windows containing 19th-century clock faces pierce its north and west faces. Above the west round window is a semicircular headed window; a shorter one is in the east face of the tower. About 1800 a north gallery for Caynton House was built in the nave; it was entered by an external staircase and a door made from the eastern window in the nave's north wall. (fn. 167)
In 1851 the church had 100 seats, half of them free. (fn. 168) It was much altered in the later 19th century. In 1855 two three-light windows replaced the gallery entrance and surviving window of 1731 in the north wall. (fn. 169) In 1856 a south aisle designed by Edward Banks was added, the chancel repaired, and the pews cut down. (fn. 170) Two stained glass windows by Wailes & Strang were introduced in 1877. In 1879–80 a north aisle, transept, and nave clerestory designed by William Martin of Hereford and at least partly financed by the Incorporated Church Building Society were built, the north gallery being removed. (fn. 171) In 1884, to a design by T. H. Fleeming of Wolverhampton, the chancel was raised by 4 ft. and a new east window (by Burlison & Grylls), screen, and stalls provided. (fn. 172) In 1887–8 the west end was restored; an oak screen, choir vestry, and new tower arch were erected. At the same time the nave was reseated and a north porch added. (fn. 173)
Externally on the north wall is an empty tomb recess, heavily restored in concrete. Internally in the south wall is a piscina, and on the north wall an incised alabaster slab to Richard Haughton (d. 1505) and his wife Margaret; it was moved there in 1856 when an altar tomb on the north side of the chancel was destroyed. Other furnishings include a probably medieval chest, a Perpendicular font (restored 1892), and a stone pulpit of 1867. There are three bells: one of 1615 and two of 1658. (fn. 174) The plate includes an Elizabethan silver chalice. (fn. 175)
In 1807 Thomas Harrison of Beckbury was a Baptist minister. (fn. 180) Wesleyans met at Beckbury from c. 1812 until 1834–5. In 1815 the society had four members. (fn. 181) In 1840 the house of Richard Adams, an 81-year-old farm labourer, (fn. 182) was licensed for dissenting worship. (fn. 183) Primitive Methodists built Provident chapel in 1866. By 1963 services were poorly attended and preachers few. The chapel was sold in 1966. (fn. 184)
In 1716 and 1719 the rector kept a school; pupils had to attend Saturday catechism and church services. (fn. 185) Samuel Hill (d. 1789) kept a school for boys and girls in a cottage near Lower Hall. In the early 19th century the curate R. P. Thursfield took in pupils to read classics. (fn. 186) The Misses Belton kept a school in the 1800s. In 1819 there were two unendowed schools in the parish with 51 pupils in all. A Sunday school had failed through non-attendance, but another, begun in 1825, had 15 boys and 15 girls in 1835, when there was also a day school, begun in 1829, with 34 boys and 21 girls. (fn. 187)
Beckbury National school, a two storeyed brick building in the Tudor style, (fn. 188) was built in 1852 by the owner of Beckbury Hall on a site that later passed to the diocese. (fn. 189) The teacher's house was on the ground floor; a stone staircase at each end led to the schoolroom above. The school received £10 a year from the parish, the rest of its income in voluntary contributions and school pence (2d. a week). Attendance averaged 53 in 1854, (fn. 190) 50 in 1885, 36 in 1909, and 50 in 1913. (fn. 191) The building was much improved in the years 1898–1904, 1928, (fn. 192) and 1964. (fn. 193) An evening school was held 1925–6 and 1928–31. (fn. 194) Twelve Smethwick evacuees were admitted in 1939. In 1949 13-year old pupils, and next year 11-year-olds, left for Shifnal Modern school. (fn. 195) Beckbury school, controlled from 1957, (fn. 196) admitted 11 pupils from Kemberton and 22 from Ryton C.E. (Controlled) primary schools, both closed in 1964; a demountable unit including two classrooms and a kitchen was erected then and extended in 1976. (fn. 197) The roll was 45 in 1954, 81 in 1965, 89 in 1974, and 64 in 1985. (fn. 198)
CHARITY FOR THE POOR.
H. R. Smythe (d. 1882), rector, left £200. In the late 20th century his charity yielded c. £5 a year. (fn. 199)