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 extensive parish of Church Stretton contained 10,286 a. (4,163 ha.) c. 1831 (fn. 1) and, save for excrescences at the southern end and the north-western corner, approximated to a compact rectangle over 8 km. from north to south and nearly 5 km. from east to west. (fn. 2) The historic centres of settlement are strung out in a line nearer the eastern than the western edge of the parish. The central and largest settlement, where the church was built, is the small market town of Church Stretton, some 19 km. south-southwest of Shrewsbury and 20 km. north-north-west of Ludlow. South of Church Stretton lie the villages of Little Stretton and Minton and, near the boundary with Wistanstow parish and Old Churchmoor, the hamlet of Hamperley; Marshbrook hamlet lies partly in Wistanstow. To the north are All Stretton and the hamlets of Botvyle and Womerton.
The 19th-century parish included four townships, each centred on one of the main settlements. Minton, the southernmost, was a separate manor (fn. 3) extending into Wistanstow parish. The three townships of Church Stretton, All Stretton, and Little Stretton formed the manor of Stretton-en-le-Dale, although All Stretton township then included Botvyle, (fn. 4) part of Lydley and Cardington manor (fn. 5) which extended into Church Stretton parish to include Caer Caradoc hill. (fn. 6) All Stretton township then also included presumably most of the land that had formed the Domesday manor of Womerton. Nevertheless the northernmost parts of the parish (the north-western excrescence and land north and north-east of Womerton) formed detached parts of Church Stretton township, (fn. 7) perhaps as a result of the inclosure of 1790.
All the settlements lie near, but not on, the Roman road from Deva (Chester) via Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter) to Isca (Caerleon, Mon.). (fn. 8) The road, itself known as Botte (Bot) Street (fn. 9) or (by c. 1580) Watling Street, gave a name to the three Strettons, (fn. 10) All Stretton apparently taking its particular name from one Alfred, the nature of whose connexion with the settlement is not known. (fn. 11) Minton is named from its proximity to the Long Mynd, Womerton perhaps from an early English owner of that estate. (fn. 12)
In the 1830s the parish boundary followed major or minor natural features or roads or field boundaries, (fn. 13) save in the north-east against Leebotwood parish where, in 1340, it was defined by a trench. (fn. 14) South of the trench the boundary with Cardington coincided with a short stretch of the Roman road (fn. 15) and then crossed fields towards Caer Caradoc hill. Along the top of the Long Mynd the north-western boundary followed the Port Way, which also marked part of the boundary of the north-western excrescence that was otherwise largely defined by enclosures on Wilderley Hill. (fn. 16) Much of the northern boundary (with Smethcott and Woolstaston parishes) followed Betchcott and Broad brooks. (fn. 17) On the east and south-east the boundary with Hope Bowdler and Acton Scott was marked by minor streams near the Cwms and ran along the eastern slopes of Helmeth and Ragleth hills but across the summit of Hazler Hill lying between them. On the south-east and south roads and streams marked the boundary with Acton Scott and Wistanstow parishes, but around Hamperley, at the southern extremity of the parish, the boundary followed field boundaries and minor streams as far west as Minton Batch, which it ascended to the Port Way on the Long Mynd. (fn. 18)
In 1899 the civil parish was split into three (fn. 19) whose combined areas coincided with that of the ancient parish until 1986. In 1986 the most distant part of the long strip of All Stretton C.P.'s territory that ran up beyond the north end of the Long Mynd, to the area around New Leasowes, was transferred to Ratlinghope C.P., (fn. 20) the rest of the strip to Church Pulverbatch and Smethcott C.P.s, whose new boundary there was formed by part of the Picklescott-Stitt road via Thresholds. (fn. 21)
The parish is hilly and most land lies over 220 m. The highest point (490 m.) is on the Long Mynd, near the north-western boundary of the parish and the springs of the streams that drain down Ashes Hollow; (fn. 22) the lowest land (161 m.) lies around Marshbrook. (fn. 23) The settled part of the parish consists of the dale referred to in the manorial name Stretton-en-le-Dale and confined by the steep sides of the Long Mynd on the north-west and by Ragleth, Hazler, Helmeth, and Caer Caradoc hills on the south-east. The dale is narrowest at Little Stretton. Church Stretton town stands on the dale's watershed. Water flowing through the rectory grounds, it was said c. 1838, could be turned either north or south: (fn. 24) that was Town brook, now culverted. The streams draining the dale north and south are fed from the west by substantial tributaries springing from the heads of the narrow valleys (batches) cut into the eastern flank of the Long Mynd; no such streams rise on the eastern side of the dale. (fn. 25) The northward stream, Ash (Nash) brook, (fn. 26) which later takes its name from the places through which it flows, (fn. 27) rises in Carding Mill valley and receives tributaries from the Batch and Gogbatch; it feeds the Cound brook system, joining the Severn near Lower Cound. The southward stream flowing round the west of Brockhurst and through Little Stretton is fed from Ashes and Callow hollows and Minton Batch; variously known as Quinny (fn. 28) or Marsh (fn. 29) brook it flows into the Onny near the Grove, Wistanstow.
The parish's geology is almost entirely PreCambrian. (fn. 30) The principal feature is the Church Stretton Fault running along the east side of the dale. East of the fault, broadly speaking, the hills are formed of what, apart from some small areas of schists near the Wrekin, (fn. 31) are Shropshire's oldest rocks, the Uriconian volcanics: mainly Ragleth Tuffs, though Caer Caradoc's geology is complicated by Caer Caradoc Andesites and Cwms Rhyolites with intrusive igneous Dolerite. West of the fault the younger Longmyndian sedimentary rocks from the Long Mynd, their strata dipping almost vertically (fn. 32) to the northwest, throwing up the Stretton Series of fine-grained siltstones and a thin band of Cardingmill Grit and, further west and beyond the parish boundary, the newer coarse-grained Wentnor Series; (fn. 33) the higher parts of the Long Mynd are covered with head (fn. 34) and, between All Stretton and Colliers Lye, areas of boulder clay. (fn. 35) In the centre of the dale Longmyndian rocks are exposed on both sides of the fault (fn. 36) so that Stretton Shales from the lowest slopes not only of the Long Mynd but also of Ragleth and Helmeth hills and the south-western slope of Caer Caradoc hill; on the western slopes of the eastern hills, though not on the Long Mynd, Helmeth Grit, oldest of the Longmyndian rocks, appears from beneath the Stretton Shales. Small areas at the south end of Ragleth hill (around Wiresytch coppice) and at the eastern end of Minton township (around Queensbatch mill and Marshbrook) are Ordovician: Caradoc shales, flags, and sandstone. The floor of the dale consists of glacial deposits of boulder clay (fn. 37) overlying Silurian shales and limestone; some of those shales, of the Llandovery and Wenlock Series, are exposed in the southern part of the dale, particularly around Minton. There are alluvial deposits along the courses of the streams and, here and there, islands of sand and gravel. Coal Measures have been encountered near Botvyle.
Palaeontological data from the late 7th millennium B.C., c. 2,500 years before subsistence agriculture began to appear in Britain, have been interpreted as evidence of a pastoral people's felling and burning of trees in the centre of Stretton dale, near the north-south watershed; similar evidence from further south, in the ill drained land near Little Stretton, is somewhat later and more tenuous. (fn. 38) Mesolithic stone maceheads have been found on the north-western slopes of Ragleth hill (fn. 39) and worked flints of uncertain date near the Port Way or its suggested north-west branch; some are possibly Neolithic (fn. 40) and an axe from Carding Mill valley is certainly so. (fn. 41)
The higher land in the parish, principally the Long Mynd, affords much evidence of prehistoric activity, though difficult to interpret within the limits of a single parish. From the Bronze Age, however, some four millennia after the first suggestion of local human activity, 20 round barrows are known (fn. 42) and possibly a ring ditch or additional round barrow (fn. 43) and other earthworks, (fn. 44) together with 'swords', flints, and stone hammers or axe hammers. (fn. 45)
On top of Caer Caradoc hill in the mid or later 1st millennium B.C. Iron Age people constructed an oval enclosure (2.6 ha.) defended by two ditches. The main rampart was a stone wall following the crest of the slopes, and the main entrance, at the south-east, had guard chambers and an inturned rampart on the north; (fn. 46) there are building platforms within the fort. (fn. 47) Bodbury Ring promontory fort, above Carding Mill valley, may be Iron Age, (fn. 48) though some earthworks and lynchets could be 7th- or 8th-century Mercian (cross-ridge) dykes (fn. 49) and other enclosures or evidence of field systems may be medieval or later. (fn. 50)
The name Battle Field (fn. 51) and Caratacus legends (fn. 52) and his supposed cave below Caer Caradoc hill fort (fn. 53) are inadequate evidence for local scenes of violent resistance to early Roman rule, though Caratacus's last stand in battle (A.D. 50) probably occurred somewhere in what became the Shropshire sector of the Anglo-Welsh borderland. (fn. 54) The Romans' most obvious local legacy is their road along the east side of the dale, away from the valley bottom. (fn. 55) A couple of coins found at opposite ends of the parish, (fn. 56) a brooch found near Battle Field, (fn. 57) and a supposed Roman milestone (fn. 58) suggest traces of Roman travel through the area, for all the finds were made near the Roman road or a suggested north-west branch of the Port Way. (fn. 59) Evidence of Roman settlement is more elusive, (fn. 60) and native British settlement can only be presumed.
By the mid 12th century there was a royal castle on Brockhurst hill, defended by steep slopes and streams and marshes on the west and south; its keepers were paid out of the manorial revenues. It was possibly destroyed in the earlier 13th century and not rebuilt in consequence of Hubert de Burgh's construction of the new castle at Montgomery. In the 1890s there were still some remains of stonework lying about the earthworks, possibly part of the massive stone wall that had once defended the inner bailey. (fn. 61)
In the Middle Ages such importance as Church Stretton had derived from its location on the main Shrewsbury-Hereford road and its status as a royal manor rather than from the size of the settlement. An attempt to establish a market there probably failed, though a fair seems to have survived and there were probably decent inns there by the 14th century. A market was established in the early 17th century, but Stretton long remained Shropshire's smallest market town. Notwithstanding its small size, and perhaps from its situation on an important road and the lack of a dominant local landowner, the early 19th-century town seems to have enjoyed a livelier social life than (for instance) the rather more populous Much Wenlock. (fn. 62) After the railway's arrival in 1852 the town began to develop as a health resort and even to nurture aspirations, never realized, to become a spa. It nevertheless grew, especially in the Edwardian period when many fine villas were built. In the 20th century its population overtook Much Wenlock's, but Stretton's growth was owned largely to its popularity as a retirement town, and to an extent it remained, as in some respects it had always been, peculiar among Shropshire towns.
There is a healing well beside the lane from Minton to Hamperley. (fn. 63)
Notable people connected with Stretton, apart from lords of manors (fn. 64) and rectors, (fn. 65) include four landowners in the parish: Sir Thomas Leighton (1443-1519), courtier and founder of the family (for whom a baronetcy was created in 1692) seated at Wattlesborough and later (from c. 1711) at Loton; (fn. 66) Sir John Thynne (d. 1580), builder of Longleat; (fn. 67) Bonham Norton (1565- 1635), the London stationer who laid out much of the money needed to print the Authorized Version of the Bible (1611); (fn. 68) and the antiquary and bibliographer Beriah Botfield (1807-63), member of the family of which the Thynnes were a branch. (fn. 69) The Revd. A. H. Johnson (1845-1927), one of the most influential tutors in the newly established school of Modern History at Oxford, (fn. 70) was a director of Church Stretton Developments Ltd. and indeed owned the greatest share of that concern's capital, an interest which passed to his son Sir Robert (1874-1938), deputy master and comptroller of the Royal Mint. (fn. 71) Dr. Roger Mainwaring (1590- 1653), bishop of St. David's from 1635 to c. 1641, (fn. 72) the animal and genre painter Philip Eustace Stretton (b. 1863, fl. 1919), (fn. 73) and the gardener and plantsman John Treasure (1911- 93) (fn. 74) were all natives. Stretton, né Smith, was the son and grandson of artists, and his father John Halphed Smith (1830-96) lived in All Stretton c. 1862-1883. (fn. 75) Stretton's aunt, Sarah Smith (1832-1911), the writer 'Hesba Stretton', had a cottage at All Stretton, where she spent holidays. (fn. 76) Lt.-Col. C. W. Campbell Hyslop (1860-1915), owner of Stretton House asylum, did distinguished service for the reserve forces (fn. 77) while his brother Dr. T. B. Hyslop (1863-1933) achieved pre-eminence in the family trade as 'head of Bedlam' 1898-1910. (fn. 78) The Revd. D. H. S. Cranage (1866-1957), having moved to Cambridge in 1902, acquired a house in Madeira Walk (1906) whence to complete work on An Architectural Account of the Churches of Shropshire. (fn. 79) The Revd. C. S. Horne (1865-1914), politician and eminent Congregational divine, built the White House, Sandford Avenue, as a retirement home; he did not live to enjoy it, (fn. 80) but it was the home, in youth, of his son Kenneth (1907-69), broadcaster and businessman. (fn. 81)
The main long distance communications through the parish have always been aligned with its north-south topography centring on the dale. (fn. 82) The earliest such route was the Port Way, possibly in use from Neolithic and Bronze Age times and traceable north from Plowden. In Stretton it is a ridgeway along the top of the Long Mynd, after which it keeps to the high ground across Betchcott hill and heads towards Cothercott hill, possibly then linking with routes to Pontesbury and thence to Bayston Hill. Recognized as a highway in the Middle Ages, (fn. 83) the Port Way may have been the way that Bishop Swinfield travelled from Stretton to Pontesbury in 1290. (fn. 84) Another route he might have taken is the road from All Stretton via Jinlye through Betchcott and Picklescott villages (where, in the 15th century, that road too was known as a portway), (fn. 85) but his employment of a guide suggests that he went over the hills rather than through the villages: to lose the way in bad weather on the wild wastes of the Long Mynd is to risk death. (fn. 86) At Bullocks Moor the road from All Stretton to Betchcott village crossed a drift road from the Port Way towards Leebotwood and a little further north, near Greenway Hill (as Woolstaston people called it in the 18th century), it crossed the main way down from the Long Mynd to Woolstaston village. (fn. 87)
Perhaps for centuries drovers taking cattle from central Wales to Shrewsbury via Bishop's Castle used the Port Way from Plowden to the north end of the Long Mynd. The Port Way's name indicates a road to a town, or here, more probably, the road to the local market towns, and in the early 19th century it was also used by farm wagons, perhaps to avoid toll gates; the steep ascent was probably no more laborious than the lower country roads. The drovers, when they descended the Long Mynd, probably avoided the roads connecting the main settlements: after passing Duckley Nap the 18th-century 'driving road' seems to have turned right out of the direct way to Woolstaston and then passed by Bullocks Moor, Womerton, and Lower Wood, turning north past the Malt House to run past the east end of Leebotwood church. (fn. 88) From where the drift road turned north a lane continued north-east to the Shrewsbury-Stretton road near the confluence of Broad brook with the main stream; known as Bog Lane in 1866, it was then inconvenient and little used. (fn. 89) Other north-bound traffic descending the Long Mynd probably used the road that left Stretton parish near Greenway Hill to run through Woolstaston and Smethcott villages towards Dorrington, a road that was known, in part at least, as the Portway in the 17th century. (fn. 90)
South-bound travellers from villages north of the parish did not have to use the ShrewsburyLudlow road north of Gorsty Bank to enter the parish, even if going to Church Stretton: in the 17th century Stankleys Lane (so called in 1777), entering the parish near Colliersley, was the high road from Woolstaston (and so in all probability from Smethcott) to Church Stretton, (fn. 91) evidently via Womerton and All Stretton. To travel from Woolstaston to Stretton by joining the Shrewsbury-Stretton turnpike at Leebotwood was in any case impossible before the 'new road' was made through Woolstaston parish in 1776-7; and long afterwards that road, not well maintained, was hardly ever used by wheeled traffic. (fn. 92) The Cartway was a route into Stretton parish from Leebotwood that avoided the ShrewsburyStretton turnpike north of Gorsty Bank: it turned south a few yards west of Leebotwood church to run parallel to the drift road across the south-east corner of Woolstaston parish and so to Lower Wood and the Strettons. (fn. 93)
As has been seen, the road from Woolstaston up the north end of the Long Mynd, joining the Port Way near Duckley Nap, was part of a road to Bishop's Castle in the 17th century. (fn. 94) About 2 km. south of Duckley Nap the Port Way crossed the main route west across the Long Mynd: known as Burway Road at its eastern end, it was a carriage road, 'much improved' in the mid 19th century, leading from Church Stretton to Ratlinghope and earlier perhaps as far as Welshpool (Mont.). (fn. 95) Its crossing with the Port Way offered southbound travellers alternative routes to Bishop's Castle: continuing south along the Port Way to Plowden on the road from Wistanstow to Bishop's Castle or turning west to Ratlinghope, whence it was a short way to the road from Shrewsbury to Bishop's Castle. Further north the latter road crosses the remote corner of Church Stretton parish near New Leasowes, but it ceased to be the main route from Shrewsbury to Bishop's Castle c. 1838 after a new one had been made through Minsterley and the Hope valley (fn. 96) further west.
Another road from Church Stretton to the top of the Long Mynd (whence roads or tracks lead to villages between it and the Stiperstones) ascends from Carding Mill valley and is called Mott's Road after Dr. Charles Mott, the Church Stretton doctor in whose honour it was improved by public subscription in 1850. (fn. 97)
The way to the top of the Mynd from Little Stretton up Ashes Hollow is really a scramble for the 'youthful and agile', but farther south, going round Callow and Round hills, there was evidently a way from Little Stretton to Bishop's Castle (via the Port Way or Wentnor) in the late 17th century. (fn. 98)
Watling Street, the Roman road from Chester to Caerleon, was skilfully made along the eastern side of the dale. (fn. 99) In Stretton it had no influence on post-Roman settlement (which was all on the western side) before the end of the 19th century.
The Shrewsbury-Ludlow road entered the parish from Leebotwood near the present Brook House and ran through the three Strettons, joining Watling Street south of Little Stretton. In the later 17th century it was part of the Chester-Bristol road, and as late as 1841 Church Stretton High Street was known as Bristol Road. North of All Stretton lanes from the road to Watling Street enabled through travellers to use the Roman road as a bypass in the late 17th century. (fn. 100) The Stretton-Ludlow road was a turnpike 1756-1873, with a toll gate (and a stop gate into Watling Street) in Little Stretton. (fn. 101) The Stretton-Shrewsbury road was a turnpike 1756-1877, and improvements may have included minor modifications of route. (fn. 102) After much local opposition a new bypass was opened in 1941; leaving the Shrewsbury-Stretton road near Gorsty Bank, c. 700 m. to the south it joined Watling Street, following that route for 2 km. and then running parallel to, and west of, Watling Street, which it rejoined after another 1.5 km. A roundabout planned for the new road at Crossways was never made. (fn. 103)
Minton is reached by lanes leaving the Shrewsbury-Ludlow road at Little Stretton and Marshbrook. From Minton a lane south-west to Hamperley was presumably also a route to Hawkhurst hay and to lanes leading towards Old Churchmoor and Cwm Head. Ways up to the Long Mynd around Minton hill lead to the Port Way.
The principal road east out of the dale ran from Church Stretton along the line of the present Hazler Road, through the gap between Hazler and Helmeth hills to Hope Bowdler, and then across Ape Dale and over Wenlock Edge to Much Wenlock; by 1675 a branch out of it, presumably at Longville in the Dale, ran to Bridgnorth. (fn. 104) The Stretton-Wenlock road was a turnpike 1765-1875. In 1855 the Hazler Road route was superseded by the straighter line of what became Sandford Avenue, laid out a little further north. (fn. 105) A road past Botvyle runs via Comley to Cardington, and another between Helmeth and Caer Caradoc hills, via the Cwms, was perhaps an old road to Cardington from the town, where it seems to align with the front of Spring Cottage, which may thus preserve an old building line where the Bristol road widened out north of the market place. (fn. 106)
The railway from Shrewsbury arrived at Church Stretton in 1852 when a station was opened north of the bridge made to carry the road to Hope Bowdler (the later Sandford Avenue) over the line. The line opened to Hereford in 1853. (fn. 107) The station was replaced in 1914 by a larger one south of the road bridge to cater for holidaymakers and visitors; (fn. 108) it was an unstaffed halt from 1967. All Stretton and Little Stretton halts were opened probably in the 1930s to compete with buses; both were open until 1958, though All Stretton halt had been closed 1943-6 as a wartime economy.
GROWTH OF SETTLEMENT.
The recorded population in 1086 was 35 in Stretton manor and 2 in Womerton; Lydley, where 2 were recorded, may have included Botvyle, but Domesday Book recorded no population figure for Minton. (fn. 109) The 1327 subsidy was paid by 38: 11 in Church Stretton, 11 in All Stretton, 10 in Minton, and 6 in Little Stretton. (fn. 110) Population at Botvyle was perhaps recorded under Lydley (5 taxpayers), (fn. 111) and the Minton figure may have included part of Wistanstow, (fn. 112) as it evidently did in 1524-5 when 4 paid to the subsidy in Minton and Whittingslow. That year 11 paid in Church Stretton and 7 in All Stretton. There were then perhaps two taxpayers in Botvyle, probably bringing the parish total to just under two dozen, perhaps representing a population of 100-200. (fn. 113)
In 1667 poll tax was assessed on 489 men, women, and children in the Strettons and Minton. (fn. 114) In 1672 hearth tax was paid for 98 houses there (fn. 115) and in 1676 there were 434 adults in the parish, perhaps representing a population approaching 500. (fn. 116) By 1792 there were 168 houses: 87 in Church Stretton, 42 in All Stretton, 26 in Little Stretton, 11 and some cottages in Minton, and 2 at Botvyle. The population was growing rapidly by the 1790s, and by 1801 there were 924 inhabitants (199 families) in the parish. (fn. 117)
The population increased erratically from 1801 to 1871, with rapid spurts 1811-21 and in the 1830s. It was 1,756 by 1871 but declined slightly in the 1870s and by 1901 had still not recovered to the 1871 level. (fn. 118)
The greatest increase of population was in the Edwardian period and was concentrated in Church Stretton town, always the largest settlement: the total population of the three new civil parishes grew from 1,749 in 1901 to 2,435 in 1911 and to 2,650 by 1921. It was probably in the Edwardian period that the population of Church Stretton town passed that of Much Wenlock town, having been about half its size in the mid 19th century. For forty years after 1921 decennial increases were small, and the population of the three C.P.s was only 2,977 in 1961. Growth then quickened, bringing their population to 3,514 by 1971, 3,945 by 1981, and 4,184 by 1991. (fn. 119)
In 1593 a fire destroyed part of Church Stretton town probably leaving other parts unscathed. The inhabitants were licensed to collect for the town's rebuilding. In the event the necessary rebuilding may have owed less to charitable collections than to Bonham Norton's investment in town properties. (fn. 120) On Sir Henry Townshend's warrant Norton received building timber from the lord of the manor's demesne woods of Hawkhurst and Womerton not only for his fine new market house but also for a school and a court house, and it seems clear that Norton (who also built himself a house) was granted a market to assist him with the improvement of the town by the building or rebuilding of inns and lodging houses. (fn. 121)
The rebuilding seems not to have destroyed Church Stretton's simple original plan, which remained apparent c. 1840. (fn. 122) It lined both sides of Bristol Road, renamed High Street in the 19th century. Most of the town was south of the Bristol road's crossing of the road down from the Long Mynd towards Hope Bowdler, then apparently part of a route from Welshpool to Much Wenlock and Bridgnorth; that road became known as Brook Street (later Burway Road) west of the crossing, and Lake Lane (later Station Road, later again Sandford Avenue) east of it. South of the crossing, probably immediately south in early times, (fn. 123) the Bristol road widened into a market place. West of the crossing Church Street (formerly Back Lane) runs south from Burway Road to join High Street at the south end of the town. In the centre of the town Churchway (formerly Cub Lane) links High Street and the Square to Church Street, which has more consequence than most back lanes as it is the way to the church, built c. 1200, and was also the way to the Hall in the 17th and 18th centuries; (fn. 124) at that point the churchyard occupies most of the land between Church Street and High Street, and it is possible that the buildings east of it are encroachments on a market place once considerably larger. Encroachment may have begun early: the town's oldest known building apart from the church, the Buck's Head built as a hall and cross wing, occupies the southern end of this suggested encroachment; the hall has gone, but the cross wing, with crown-post roof and dragon ties, was built 1287-1321. (fn. 125)
The railway's arrival in 1852 stimulated the town's aspirations (apparent by the early 1860s) to develop into a resort, but growth was long delayed. Its population was probably rather more than 500 in the 1840s (fn. 126) and little more 40 years later. (fn. 127) Some building and embellishments were undertaken in the 1880s. In 1884-5 Station Road and the new road (1855) which continued east to the Hope Bowdler boundary were planted as an avenue of limes on the initiative of Holland Sandford, rector of Eaton-under-Heywood and donor of the first trees. Sandford hoped thereby to improve the landscape and climate of the dale and to provide visitors with the amenity of a sheltered walk similar to that he had known as a Shrewsbury schoolboy. The road was later called after him. (fn. 128) At the same time the lord of the manor built five 'beautiful villas' in Church Street and planted a 'charming little enclosure of shrubs and trees at the top of the town' to add to the town's attractions. (fn. 129)
Nevertheless land was not made available for new building before 1892: the rebuilding of Bank House at the northern end of the town that year was later seen as marking the beginning of the town's growth. (fn. 130) In 1893 some four or five new houses appeared, and more followed in succeeding years. (fn. 131) Notable houses built before 1900 included Brockhurst, designed by A. E. Lloyd Oswell (perhaps for Mrs. Proffit), (fn. 132) beyond the south end of the town; it was a large three-storeyed house with small timber-decorated gables. More notable aesthetically was Woodcote (1896- 8), secluded from the south end of the town and designed for Maj. C. W. Campbell Hyslop by Parker & Unwin. (fn. 133)
Parker & Unwin also designed the pair of cottages built in 1900-1 for Campbell Hyslop at the bottom of Cunnery Road, opposite the entrance to Woodcote. They were prototypes of Parker & Unwin's influential designs for cottages at New Earswick. (fn. 134) About 1900 the lord of the manor laid out over 200 building plots on c. 27 a. bounded by Shrewsbury Road, Sandford Avenue, the railway line, and Ash brook. (fn. 135)
Meanwhile, in 1896, a syndicate had bought up a considerable area, probably c. 300 a., for development, which they conveyed to the new Church Stretton Land Co. Ltd. in 1897. Two years later Church Stretton Building Co. Ltd. was formed, with a registered office at the same London address as the Land Co.'s. Those companies, with several 'allied organizations', invested capital running into six figures to develop the town as a superior residential district and to attract a good class of visitor. (fn. 136)
New roads, carefully planned to respect the scenic beauty, were laid out on the slopes of the hills. By 1901 Cunnery Road ran uphill from the south-west end of the town, and Madeira Walk, Trevor Hill, Stanyeld Road, and Links Road had been laid out on the slopes north-west of the town near the entrance to Carding Mill valley; Crossways had been laid out in the centre of the dale, and Clive Avenue, the beginnings of Hazler Crescent, and Kenyon Road on the dale's eastern slopes. There were then few houses in any of them, except the newly opened Hydropathic Establishment and Tiger Hall at the top of Cunnery Road and the terraced Cunnery Cottages near the bottom, two or three houses in Carding Mill valley, one (Staniel Villa) in Madeira Walk, the golf course clubhouse at the top of Links Road, and four houses at the lower (north) end of Clive Avenue. For the first time in its long history Watling Street had begun to be settled. (fn. 137)
Within ten years the urban district's rateable value doubled (fn. 138) as large villas were built on the sides of the dale and many new houses and shops in the centre. By 1905 the focus of intended development in the centre of the dale was Crossways, four shopping streets laid out by the Land Co. south of Sandford Avenue between the railway line and Watling Street. It included Tower Buildings, an impressive row of shops, with living quarters over, built c. 1905 to A. B. and W. S. Deakin's design in an elaborate 'black and white' style reminiscent of Victorian Chester. Vernon House, on the next corner, was a more commonplace corner shop. (fn. 139) In the same period c. 60 small houses, semi-detached or in short terraces, were built at the southern end of Crossways, in the part of Watling Street adjoining Crossways, and further south along Watling Street. Hazler Crescent's detached houses and the grander villas of Sandford Avenue and Watling Street east and north of their crossing point added over 30 more. Along the dale's eastern and western slopes fewer houses were built: only 3 were added in Clive Avenue in the east, and on the western side 2 in Cunnery Road, 5 in Madeira Walk, and 9 in Trevor Hill and Stanyeld Road. Almost all were detached villas in ample grounds, similar to those in the eastern stretch of Sandford Avenue.
Church Stretton's early 20th-century villas exemplify the rich variety of Edwardian architecture: Miss Brace's Overdale (c. 1903), (fn. 140) Clive Avenue; Emil Quäck's Mynd Court (c. 1905), Longhills; (fn. 141) Denehurst; the neo-timber-framed Arden; (fn. 142) and the Rowans, (fn. 143) Burway Road, may be cited. Towards the end of the grandest phase of Church Stretton's development were Scotsman's Field (1908), Burway Road, designed by Ernest Newton for Mrs. H. B. Quick, (fn. 144) and the White House (1913), Sandford Avenue, designed for the Revd. C. S. Horne by P. R. Morley Horder. (fn. 145)
The first half of the Edwardian decade saw a burst of building activity probably unparalleled since that presumed to have followed the 1593 fire. Nevertheless the lord's plan to develop the north-eastern end of the town was not realized; nor, after the great sale of the Land Co.'s building plots in 1905 (which may have brought the company's disposals up to c. 100 a.), (fn. 146) did the next twenty or so years see much more development on the company's remaining property. (fn. 147) The rate of submission of building plans to the U.D.C.'s Buildings Committee halved between 1905 and 1910. (fn. 148) Even where development had been quickest many houses stood among vacant plots. Some of the new roads were never completed, some never begun. (fn. 149) The developers were too optimistic. In 1908 the Land Co. renamed itself Church Stretton Ltd. and set about raising almost £29,000 by a new share issue. In its prospectus the company outlined plans to make the town a spa by buying the Longmynd Hotel, enlarging it to accommodate 120-130 visitors, and piping water from a saline spring near Wentnor to a new Pump Room to be built in the 9-a. grounds of Woodcote, which the company had contracted to buy. It still owned c. 200 a. of building land in and around the town, but growth was slowing, and in 1909 the company's assets were put in receivership for the debenture holders. In 1911 they were acquired by the new Church Stretton Developments Ltd., which continued in business, presumably with more realistic expectations, until its voluntary liquidation in 1935-6. (fn. 150)
By the mid 1920s little had been added since the Edwardian period except the 20 council houses at Cross Bank in Little Stretton township. (fn. 151) The Crossways shopping streets had not developed as hoped and were awkwardly related to the town: too cut-off from the old centre to benefit from High Street trade and not well positioned for the railway station until a new one opened in 1914 with its up platform at the west end of Crossways. (The main buildings were on the down platform, approached from the old town centre.) In 1941 Crossways was bisected by the new bypass, and the increase of traffic after the war eventually led to the demolition (1965) of the area's only grand feature, Tower Buildings. (fn. 152)
The largest elements in the town's growth in the 1930s and 1940s were the 30 council houses built in Essex Road c. 1930 (fn. 153) and later the substantial detached houses along Hazler Road and at around the east end of Sandford Avenue. Property in the town between Beaumont and Essex roads, including part of the south side of Lutwyche Road and part of the north side of Sandford Avenue, was developed. There was also infilling in Carding Mill Valley Road, Madeira Walk, Shrewsbury Road, and the south ends of Watling Street South and Clive Avenue.
In the half century after the end of the Second World War the town's 'rounding-off' between Shrewsbury Road and the railway line involved some north and south extension of the built-up area, northward growth being limited to retain open country between the town and All Stretton village east of Shrewsbury Road. (fn. 154) Council housing was mainly in the central and northern parts of the growing town, private housing at the south end and on the east side of the dale. Growth was particularly marked in the 1960s, when the housing estates east of the bypass were built, even up the slopes of Hazler and Helmeth hills. Development on the east side of the dale, however, was limited after the 1960s.
Initially the main new developments, to meet an urgent housing shortage, (fn. 155) were near the town centre: in 1947 10 council houses were completed in Lutwyche Road and Essex Road, (fn. 156) and soon afterwards 14 prefabs were built at the south end of Easthope Road. (fn. 157) Over the next six or seven years 72 more council houses were built in Lutwyche Road and Central Avenue (fn. 158) in semi-detached pairs and short terraces. (fn. 159) Also in the early 1950s the council housing in Essex Road was continued north. (fn. 160) There was housing along the east side of Shrewsbury Road, south of Carding Mill Valley Road, by 1963-4 when 22 council houses and bungalows in Brooksbury were built between it and the houses in Lutwyche Road. (fn. 161) In the late 1970s and early 1980s Essex Road was extended further north (including old people's flatlets in Windsor Place, opened 1978) while Churchill Road was extended east to meet it and so complete the housing encirclement of Brooksbury recreation ground and Russells Meadow playing fields. (fn. 162) West and north of the town private houses were built on the south side of Burway Road and on the west side of Shrewsbury Road around the Yeld; building further north was seen as ribbon development threatening to link Church Stretton to All Stretton.
On the eastern side of the dale infilling of Clive Avenue, especially at the south end, and of the south side of Sandford Avenue were small by comparison with the building, in the 1960s, of a large private estate at Battlefield, north of Sandford Avenue. In the same period more private housing was built in Poplar Drive up the northern slope of Ragleth hill. (fn. 163) The extension of Poplar Drive, with Chelmick Drive and the upper part of Ragleth Road, higher up the side of the dale than any comparable area of small houses and bungalows (fn. 164) occasioned some disquiet, (fn. 165) and a civic society, the Stretton Society, was formed in 1974-5. (fn. 166) One critic alleged that it was against development, (fn. 167) but another (albeit slightly lower) hillside development, Hazler Orchard off Hazler Road, went ahead. (fn. 168)
At the south end of the town Woodcote Edge's houses were built in the grounds of Woodcote in the mid 1960s. (fn. 169) On the opposite side of Ludlow Road Stretton House (which had been flatted like some other older and larger houses) (fn. 170) was demolished in 1976 (fn. 171) and the Stretton Farm private estate of bungalows was built over its grounds. (fn. 172)
The town was designated a conservation area in 1986. (fn. 173) Though 'half-timber' (both original and revived) had been designated its 'hallmark' thirty years before, the small town centre contains a wide range of building styles: 17th-century brickwork encasing the old part of the Buck's Head; the elegant town house that replaced 'Berry's messuage' in High Street; and Victorian buildings-the Hotel, H. Salt's ironmongery, and Ashlett House-impressive by their greater size and varied styles. (fn. 174)
In the 1980s and 1990s there was infilling between the railway and the bypass (the short terraces and semis of Swain's Meadow private estate) and in the town centre, with developments like Rectory Gardens, King's Court (off Easthope Road), and the housing on the north side of the town-centre part of Sandford Avenue. (fn. 175) The post-war prefabs had given way to a car park c. 1966, (fn. 176) and the largest change to the town-centre plan was made when, after long delayed planning permission, a superstore was opened next to the car park in 1994: (fn. 177) the central part of High Street was thus opened up to Easthope Road and Central Avenue.
All Stretton was perhaps a straggling settlement that grew together from two groups of houses on the Shrewsbury-Ludlow road. At the south end of the village a lane down Batch valley ran into the village nearly opposite the end of Farm Lane, reaching the village from Watling Street. The other, perhaps larger, group was 250 m. north, where the way from Picklescott and Betchcott joins the main road. East of the main road c. 1840 All Stretton Hall and its grounds filled most of the space between the two ends. To the west a few cottages strung along the Row connected the two ends; (fn. 178) high above the village, its approaches narrow and steep, the Row was not a normal back lane. The furlongs north-west of the village must have been reached via Castle Hill, and access to the village's largest areas of open field (fn. 179) was by Farm Lane and two minor lanes north and south out of it just beyond Old Hall Farm at the south end of the village.
Old Hall Farm is the most complete of the village's larger and older timber-framed buildings. Its low western cross wing (1564) has a northern jetty. Abutting it on the east is a taller lobby-entry block of 1630 with rooms either side of a large stack. The attic storey was fitted for domestic living. (fn. 180) The farmhouse known since the 1920s as the Manor House, at the northern end of the village, is early 17th-century with a main east-extending range and a northern parlour wing at the west end. The building is notable for the quality of its exposed timber framing and the panelled ceilings of the principal rooms. The eastern room was rebuilt in brick in the early 19th century. In the late 19th century the house was a lodging house, but in the 1920s it was remodelled and 17th-century panelling and a 19th-century staircase, the latter said to come from Preen Manor, were introduced. (fn. 181) Maj. T. E. Price-Stretche lived there from c. 1926 to the early 1940s; (fn. 182) he regarded himself as the village squire, perhaps in rivalry with Dr. McClintock of the Grove. (fn. 183) The timber-framed cottage Marylis bears the date 1603, and the box-framed Yew Tree inn is probably 17th-century but was altered and extended in 1720. (fn. 184) Other cottages in local stone or brick are probably later.
Essex Lodge is ostensibly early 19th-century, but its kitchen preserves 17th-century timber framing. (fn. 185) Stretton Hall, perhaps late 18th-century, belonged to the Wildings who, by 1838, were letting it as a farmhouse. (fn. 186) The Grove, by 1838 second only to Stretton Hall in the size and extent of its pleasure grounds, was of early 19th-century appearance; then a boarding school and later (1851-1969) a private asylum, it is said to have taken the place of a cottage. (fn. 187) A cottage occupied by a smith in 1767, later the Lion inn, was enlarged in Victorian times by the Leebotwood coalmaster James Smith to become Caradoc Lodge. (fn. 188) Other cottages were once larger houses: White Heart Cottage, built in the 1750s and possibly an inn in the 1850s, may have had its roof lowered in 1910 and its stable was demolished in 1940. (fn. 189)
The west end of Farm Lane began to be built up in the mid 19th century. James Smith's two cottages, later made into one called Cloverley, were built or extended then. (fn. 190) Further east down Farm Lane, beyond White Heart Cottage, Minton Cottage probably represents the old copyhold messuage called Vernolds and Hayles; (fn. 191) it stood apart from the village until, from the early 20th century, detached houses were built on the opposite side of what became Heighways Lane. (fn. 192) By 1925 almost all that side of Heighways Lane had been built, and 4 council houses were built in Farm Lane, on the other side of Minton Cottage. By 1970 15 detached and semi-detached houses and bungalows had been built in Farm and Heighways lanes (fn. 193) to fill up a substantial south-eastern extension of the village.
Other extensions to the village in the later 20th century were mainly at the southern end: in the triangle formed by Shrewsbury Road, Star Lane, and Farm Lane; along Batch valley; and in the Grove's grounds, where bungalows were built in 1972. (fn. 194) Over many years development of the west side of Shrewsbury Road had linked the village to Church Stretton, though the houses, standing high above the road and looking over farm land, do not look like ribbon development.
Womerton Farm and the two farmhouses at Botvyle presumably represent shrunken hamlets, though three modern bungalows have been added at Botvyle. Nevertheless settlement north of All Stretton, from Botvyle to the homesteads at New Leasowes and Jinlye, is, and long has been, very scattered, a pattern distinguishing the north end of the parish, and to a lesser extent its south end, from the centre, where settlement was nucleated until recent times. (fn. 195) Besides small farmhouses the area included cottages associated with piecemeal inclosures from the waste. Some cottages were probably fairly ramshackle and either improved or destroyed as inclosure proceeded more systematically in the late 18th century: (fn. 196) in the early 19th century a 'wretched' dwelling near Womerton wood was thrown down even as the corpse of its last resident, one Bowdler, was taken out for burial. (fn. 197) In the earlier 19th century Dudgeley House was an admired cottage ornée. (fn. 198) Many older houses have been modernized, and there has been some 20th-century development between Castle Hill and Inwood. The few substantial 20th-century houses include Acrebatch at Lower Wood and Maidenhill Wood.
Little Stretton village is a rough quadrilateral formed by two lanes forking out of one descending from Ashes Hollow: the northern lane runs due east and the southern one south and then south-east, (fn. 199) both (as Ashes Road and Brook Lane) to form crossroads (250 m. apart) with Ludlow Road and continue (as Elms Lane and Crown Lane) to Watling Street.
At the northern crossroads stands the Ragleth (earlier Sun) inn, the former Pigg's or Lloyd's copyhold messuage rebuilt in the early 19th century. (fn. 200) On Ludlow Road between the northern and the southern crossroads several timber-framed buildings date from the late Middle Ages to the 17th century. South of the church (1903) (fn. 201) is the late medieval farmhouse known as the Manor House; (fn. 202) an adjacent 17th-century farm building, restored in the 20th century, is now Courtyard Cottage. (fn. 203) Further south is Bircher Cottage, a cruckframed house of two bays, made L shaped by a southern box-framed cross wing. An upper floor was put into the main room, probably in the 17th century, and there is a large stack with a bread oven against the north gable. East and west additions were made in the 20th century. (fn. 204) Next door is the Malt House, a 16th-century T shaped box-framed former farmhouse, with 17th-century alterations. The hall has an inserted floor and raised roof, and at the north end there is a flattened-ogee headed internal door into the cross wing, which is built over a cobbled cellar. The cross-wing framing includes a cambered tie beam and arch braces and its gable contains an ulenlok. The hall range has square framing three panels high. On the main, west, front the 19th-century leaded casements, with pointed Gothick heads in wooden mullioned frames beneath bracketed hoods, have wooden drip moulds; the doorway is pedimented. (fn. 205) The Tan House (fn. 206) has been remodelled. In the 17th century it comprised two adjacent timber-framed structures, the northern one perhaps a cross wing. The walls of the southern range were later partly rebuilt in rubble and the northern range was reduced in size. Mrs. A. B. Wood, née Maw, owned the house 1875-1909, (fn. 207) and it was probably early in her time (fn. 208) that the timber framing was restored and matching additions were made to the north and west; the interior was fitted out with a collection of 17th- and 18th- century woodwork, much of it elaborately carved; and a stone fireplace with flanking terms of c. 1600, said to have been brought from Devon by Mrs. Wood's father, was put into the central room.
Old Hall Farm in Ashes Road is a 16th-century or earlier timber-framed farmhouse, roughly E shaped; the gable in the centre of the main, east, front has exposed vertical timber framing, the later north and south gables are of random stone. To the north is an 18th-century rubble stone barn. (fn. 209) The nearby Brook Farm is a late 18th-century farmhouse of coursed stone; the windows have wooden mullions and transoms, those on the ground floor with stone lintels and raised centre key blocks. Two cottages on the opposite side of the road are early 17th-century. (fn. 210)
The village has some early 19th century buildings (fn. 211) but grew little before the mid 20th century. (fn. 212) Half a dozen small scattered houses were built north of the Sun (later Ragleth) inn in the later 19th and earlier 20th century, but it was only the addition of c. 20 more, mainly in the 1950s and 1960s, that formed a continuous northern extension of the village along Ludlow Road. (fn. 213) By 1949 the village had begun to extend south with six semi-detached houses in the angle between Ludlow Road and the railway, built by the owner of the adjacent saw mill for his workers; some became council houses after the closure of the mill, whose site was redeveloped as private bungalows (Crown Close) in the earlier 1960s. There was later some infilling in the centre of the village, which was designated a conservation area in 1986. (fn. 214)
North of the village, just within Little Stretton township, Church Stretton U.D.C. built 20 houses at Cross Bank 1920-2; (fn. 215) in the mid 1960s private bungalows were built opposite them, between the brook and Brockhurst wood. (fn. 216)
Minton village is 'very singularly situated' on a spur of land which slopes down to the south and east, between Callow Hollow and Minton Batch. It has changed very little since the early 19th century. It may have shrunk slightly since c. 1838 when it was said to be 'overspread with many ancient timber and plaster farmhouses and smaller dwellings'. (fn. 217) Longmynd House near the northern corner of the village, has a main cruckframed range of two bays and a short jettied cross wing to the west. (fn. 218)
The village centres on a green where three ways meet, one down from the Port Way over Minton and Packetstone hills, two others approaching Minton from Little Stretton to the north-east and Hamperley to the south-west. East of the green stands Manor House Farm, said c. 1838 to be the manor house; the timberframed east end was then said to be the oldest part, dating from the 1630s; a new kitchen and brewhouse were built in 1723, and later still the house was extended in brick when a parlour and chamber were built at the west end. Between the manor house and the village green was the chapel yard, (fn. 219) which, with the manor house and its curtilage, and the property to the north, may indicate the shape of the former bailey (fn. 220) of a castle whose motte survives to the south-east. (fn. 221) The biggest house, Minton House, a little southwest of the village, has a stone Georgian front dated 1757, but a massive stone stack suggests an earlier house. (fn. 222)
Settlement in the southern part of Minton township is sparse and scattered. About 1900 Hamperley, in the south-west corner, was a farmstead at the meeting of four lanes. Marshbrook, in the south-east corner of the parish, had an inn and railway station in the parish but otherwise straggled into Wistanstow parish. Between Hamperley and Marshbrook there were a few isolated cottages and houses, including Minton Oaks and New House Farm. Little changed after 1900, (fn. 223) though within a few years White Birches, a gentleman's house in the Elizabethan style, was built above the lane from Marshbrook to Cwm Head. (fn. 224) In the mid 20th century, when E. W. Minton Beddoes lived there, it was called Minton House, Minton House in the village being renamed the Well House; (fn. 225) the houses resumed their former names, Minton House c. 1955 and White Birches c. 1965. (fn. 226)
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES.
In 1392-3 alesellers in the manor were required to display their 'signs' outside their houses when they were selling ale. (fn. 227) Bonham Norton was expected to set up inns and lodging houses as an encouragement to the town's trade after the 1593 fire, (fn. 228) and two alesellers were licensed in 1613. (fn. 229) In the mid 18th century there were about a dozen licensed premises in the parish, probably three quarters of them in the town, where the Buck's Head, the Red Lion, the Plough, and the Raven all seem to have existed by the end of the 17th century, (fn. 230) as did the Swan (later the Swan and Malt Shovel) by 1757 and the Fox from c. 1770. (fn. 231) The Talbot and the Crown, at the south and north ends of the town respectively, were probably also in existence by then. (fn. 232) By the earlier 1750s there were two alesellers in Little Stretton and one (perhaps the Lion) (fn. 233) in All Stretton; there seems to have been one at Minton, perhaps intermittently, in the 1760s.
The number of licensees in the parish fell from 12 in 1786 to eight by 1789 and seven by the 1820s; All Stretton and Minton may have lost their taverns and Little Stretton may have lost one too. (fn. 234) The number of inns and alehouses in Church Stretton town also fell, the Swan and the Fox probably closing in or before the early 19th century. (fn. 235) In the 1820s there were apparently only six public houses in the town. The Talbot was then the best inn, with a good coaching trade; the excise office was there and two of the licensees served as the town's postmaster. (fn. 236)
By 1851 the Talbot's best days were over; the post office was elsewhere, and the opening of the railway in 1852 probably fixed the superiority of the Crown, the inn nearest to the railway station. The Talbot closed c. 1853. (fn. 237)
Meanwhile, with the end of licensing in 1828, (fn. 238) inns, taverns, and beer sellers had increased. By 1835 Little Stretton had two taverns again, the Sun and the Crown, (fn. 239) and a beer seller. (fn. 240) All Stretton had the White Horse, the New Inn, and the Yew Tree, (fn. 241) and in the 1860s the White Heart may have been a short-lived enterprise at the south-east corner of the village, well placed to catch railway navvies' custom. (fn. 242) The New Inn at Marshbrook, on the south side of the Bishop's Castle road, was open by 1838, but the opening of the railway in 1853 caused it to be renamed the Station inn, and about the same time, or early in the 1860s when the track was doubled, it was rebuilt on the opposite side of the road. (fn. 243) By 1835 there was a new beer seller in Church Stretton, perhaps at the King's Arms or the Queen's Head, probably both in existence by 1841, and by 1851 the town also had the Britannia and, at World's End just south of the town, the Grapes. (fn. 244) The Britannia closed c. 1895, (fn. 245) so by c. 1900 the number of licensed premises in the parish was at the mid 18th-century level again, with 1 at Marshbrook, 3 at Little Stretton, 2 at All Stretton (where the New Inn had closed in the late 1880s), (fn. 246) 7 in the town, (fn. 247) and 1 at World's End.
The opening of the Hotel in 1865 marked the town's developing role as a resort, (fn. 248) which in due course attracted a better trade to the High Street inns: the Buck's Head and the Raven, and the King's Arms further south, all provided good accommodation and stabling c. 1900. Before the First World War the smaller pubs in the town- the Lion, the Queen's Head, and the World's End (the former Grapes)-closed, and the Raven became an hotel. (fn. 249) The town's only pubs were then the Plough (whose licence was transferred to the Sandford House Hotel, Watling Street South, in 1947), the King's Arms (which seems to have closed for a time in the 1960s), (fn. 250) and the Buck's Head. By c. 1990 the Buck's Head, the reopened King's Arms, and the Hotel (which resumed the old Crown's public-house role after a fire in 1968) (fn. 251) were the town's only public houses, though two hotels, the Denehurst (Shrewsbury Road) and Sandford House (closed c. 1990), (fn. 252) served areas north and east of the town centre.
Outside the town, by c. 1990, there were the Wayside Inn (the Station Inn, renamed c. 1972) (fn. 253) at Marshbrook; the Green Dragon and Ragleth (formerly Sun) inns at Little Stretton, where the Crown had closed c. 1907; (fn. 254) and at All Stretton the Yew Tree (fn. 255) and Stretton Hall hotel, with a pub licence from 1976.
Stretton's church ale was abolished in 1595. (fn. 256) In the later 18th century Little Stretton still had its wake on the Sunday after 21 August ('Old St. Lawrence's Day' after 1752). All Stretton wake was celebrated on the first Sunday after Trinity and Minton wake on the Sunday after 15 October. 'Caradoc Wakes', recollected as formerly held on Trinity Sunday on Caer Caradoc, (fn. 257) was evidently a distinct occasion from the annual meeting of the 18th-century Caractusian Society there. (fn. 258) By the mid 19th century, however, it was not a wake but the May fair, (fn. 259) the annual 'Mop and Statute' hiring fair, that was the main event in the parish's social life. The September horse fair was also observed as a local holiday as late as the end of the century. (fn. 260) The May pleasure fair was still a considerable attraction in the early 20th century, and in 1926, besides various sideshows, the amusements had for some years included Mr. Marshall Hill's scenic railway from Bristol; that year, however, the fair was poorly attended by previous years' standards, (fn. 261) and it later lapsed. It was revived in 1984 by the efforts of the local fire brigade. (fn. 262)
A new town hall was built by public subscription in 1838-9 on the site of the old market house. Designed in a 17th-century style by Edward Haycock, the hall was intended for town and public use and as a polling place (fn. 263) for the county's Southern parliamentary division. (fn. 264) The hall accommodated a subscription library by the mid 19th century, (fn. 265) and the U.D.C. met there 1899-1920. (fn. 266) Other buildings for public resort and assembly were later erected in the town: a parish hall c. 1913 (rebuilt in 1989-90) (fn. 267) and the Silvester Horne Institute, built in 1915-16 in memory of the Revd. C. S. Horne and designed by P. R. Morley Horder. (fn. 268) By 1963 the town hall had become unsafe and was then demolished. (fn. 269)
By the mid 19th century, besides the library in the town hall, there was a news room in the Crown. A Working Men's Club and Reading Room was established in 1880, and by 1909 W. H. Smith's had a circulating library. (fn. 270) The Silvester Horne Institute, conveyed to the U.D.C. in 1946, was used for many educational and social purposes (fn. 271) and from 1920 included a reading room and library. The county library opened a book centre there in 1929; stocked with 600 books, it was run by the Institute's own librarian and was open longer hours than most centres in the county. Book issues were high and opening hours were extended c. 1950; by 1956 the branch had paid staff (fn. 272) and in 1968 it was moved into the former primary school in Church Street. (fn. 273)
G. R. Windsor published two issues of a weekly Church Stretton Times and Visitors' List in September 1881; it was intended to come out during the town's 'season' but failed to appear again. (fn. 274) The weekly Church Stretton Advertiser and Visitors' List was started in 1898 by W. F. and G. J. Marks, who had taken over the Ludlow Advertiser. It proclaimed from the first that it would support 'every movement by which the development of the district will be advanced' without serving any political party, (fn. 275) though W. F. Marks (sole owner after his brother's departure) (fn. 276) was a radical. (fn. 277) The Conservative Ludlow and Church Stretton Chronicle was published in Ludlow 1910-12. (fn. 278) Owing to rising production costs the Church Stretton Advertiser, with three other papers in the same group, (fn. 279) was incorporated in the Ludlow Advertiser in 1938. (fn. 280) H. D. Woods published the Stretton Gazette for about a year c. 1964 from a High Street office. (fn. 281) The Stretton Focus, a monthly 'interchurch and local newspaper', was published from February 1967, though its title appeared on its masthead only in June 1969 and the explanatory gloss only in November 1980. (fn. 282) The Stretton Times, a local edition of a quarterly magazine called the Castle Times, was published in Bishop's Castle and first appeared in 1983. (fn. 283)
A branch of the Shropshire Provident Society existed by 1883 and until 1948. (fn. 284) There was an independent Odd Fellows' lodge at the King's Arms by 1850 and a Manchester Unity lodge by 1885. By 1895 there was a court of Foresters at the Red Lion; all three were named after Caratacus (Caradoc). The Odd Fellows' lodges may have amalgamated soon after 1905. The Foresters ceased about the end of the First World War, the Odd Fellows about the beginning of the Second World War. (fn. 285) Freemasons' lodges were formed in 1926 (at the Longmynd hotel) and 1946. In 1973 the lodges moved from the Denehurst hotel to a newly purchased building (the old Queen's Head) in High Street, officially opened as a masonic hall in 1975. (fn. 286)
Walter Burrie, the schoolmaster, was prosecuted in the church courts in 1589 for producing plays and interludes on Sunday. (fn. 287) In 1777 travelling comedians staged a Molière double bill, 'The Miser & Lyar', at 'Stretton Theatre', staying a month or more. (fn. 288) Strolling players and mountebanks performed in the grounds of Park House or the old barn there in the 19th century, (fn. 289) but no permanent theatre in the town is mentioned before the early 20th century. The Barn Theatre opened c. 1905 at the southern end of the town in an outbuilding of Stretton House asylum; played by a theatre group called the Barn Owls and managed by the asylum's resident proprietor Dr. Horatio Barnett. Later the theatre passed to Church Stretton Entertainments Ltd., formed in 1910 with mainly local shareholders but liquidated in 1914. The theatre closed c. 1920. (fn. 290) By 1922 touring companies occasionally performed in the Silvester Horne Institute. (fn. 291)
The first movies in Stretton were shown in the Barn Theatre, (fn. 292) but early in 1919 and during 1921-2 they were shown in the Silvester Horne Institute, whose management committee was concerned to prevent the building of a cinema and so retain influence over the choice of films shown in the town. The parish hall was used for cinema shows from 1922. (fn. 293) By the later 1930s, however, there was evidently a demand for showings six days a week, which could not be satisfied by rented premises, (fn. 294) and Craven Cinemas Ltd. opened the Regal, Sandford Avenue, in 1937; by the beginning of 1962 the cinema was used by a bingo club two days a week, and it evidently closed later that year. (fn. 295)
Part of the 1st Shropshire Artillery Volunteer Corps, formed in 1860 (and known after consolidation in 1880 as the 1st Shropshire & Staffordshire Artillery Volunteers), (fn. 296) trained at Church Stretton: a position battery stationed there (or partly there) by 1868 was under the command of Lt. (Capt. 1894, later Maj.) W. Campbell Hyslop in the 1880s and 1890 and of Maj. Horatio Barnett later; there were 63 men in 1891. (fn. 297) A gun platform was established on the Long Mynd c. 1865, and by 1883 there was a carbine range between Stretton House and Brockhurst. (fn. 298) In 1885 the drill hall in the Lion Yard contained a 32-pounder, but guns were later kept in the grounds of Stretton House. (fn. 299) As a result of the Territorial reorganization of 1908 the gunners stationed at Church Stretton formed half of the Welsh Border Mounted Brigade Ammunition Column, Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery, not re-formed after the First World War. (fn. 300)
Church Stretton was in the recruiting area of Ludlow Platoon, A (Shrewsbury) Company, 4th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry (T.A.) 1920-39. Ludlow Platoon was expanded during the Second World War to become the new D Company with a Church Stretton platoon; the platoon was suspended in 1947 but re-formed in A Company in 1963. The Territorials were again reorganized in 1967 (fn. 301) and the drill hut near the railway station was demolished about then. (fn. 302)
About 1840 William Pinches of Ticklerton and the Revd. R. J. Buddicom introduced a few pair of red grouse (from Yorkshire) to the Long Mynd. Though it was the bird's southernmost habitat in 19th-century England, the high, treeless, heather-and-bilberry moorland suited well, (fn. 303) and the sport which the common afforded (apparently unaffected by the volunteer gunners' summer practices) (fn. 304) became one of the manorial property's most desirable features. (fn. 305) Mrs. Coleman let Pinches have it but on his death in 1849 his brother-in-law Buddicom lost it after Moses Benson, of Lutwyche, 'treacherously applied over his head to Mrs. Coleman'. (fn. 306) Benson's grandson R. B. Benson, who also leased the shooting, (fn. 307) bought the manor in 1888, and A. S. Browne, who bought the manor from Maj. G. R. Benson in 1925, was another tenant of the shooting before his purchase. (fn. 308) Such continuous interest produced good sport: a day's bag of 96 brace by four or five guns was remembered in 1935. (fn. 309) Browne improved the shooting to the satisfaction of his successor R. D. Cohen. (fn. 310) William Humphrey, lord 1937-63 and previously agent to his predecessor M. V. Wenner, was the breeder of a unique strain of English 'Llewellin' setters. (fn. 311)
Wenner and Humphrey both enjoyed shooting over their setters, but their attempts to confine a potentially careless public to rights of way over the common had little success. Public access led to damage: a match dropped by a labourer more used to town than country life destroyed 1,000 a. of heather in 1922, and in the spring of 1935 alone there were three fires. (fn. 312) In 1935 Humphrey admitted that 'hikers' behaved well on the hill, (fn. 313) but there were other classes of visitor who perhaps did not; (fn. 314) and the beginning of flights by the Midland Gliding Club in 1934 was said to have attracted too many spectators, they (and their dogs) probably doing more harm to the grouse than the gliders did. (fn. 315) During the Second World War Humphrey could not exercise his sporting rights; afterwards, however, he resumed his 'days at grouse' with a mounted party, flying falcons at birds found by his setters. (fn. 316) In 1965-6 the manor and common were acquired by the National Trust, which was faced with potentially difficult management problems in reconciling agricultural and recreational interests. (fn. 317) By then, however, recreational interests were primarily those of visitors to the area (fn. 318) rather than sportsmen, though bags of 113 brace for the 1975 season and 32 brace in 1990 were recorded; the latter was the highest seasonal bag for a decade and indicated the need for conservation. (fn. 319)
By the 1880s lawn tennis, (fn. 320) quoits, bowls, football, and cricket were favourite amusements for visitors and local people. Tennis was presumably played on private courts, quoits perhaps on public-house premises. Bowls, football, and cricket were club activities, and in the 1880s and 1890s the bowling club was at the Hotel, the football club at the Red Lion and later the King's Arms, the cricket club at the Raven and later the Buck's Head. (fn. 321) Clubs and teams for those sports, especially bowls, football, and later golf, remained a feature of local life. There was a cricket club between the wars, (fn. 322) but some other sports failed to support long-lived clubs. A rifle club, evidently formed during the First World War, seems not to have long outlasted it. (fn. 323) There was a lawn tennis club c. 1926 (fn. 324) and a hockey club in the later 1920s. (fn. 325) Even soccer clubs needed occasional reanimation, (fn. 326) but c. 1990 three teams regularly played on Brooksbury recreation ground (given by Richard Robinson in 1924) and Russells Meadow playing field (opened 1928): two, one of them an All Stretton team, played in the Shrewsbury Sunday League but Church Stretton Town played in the county league and also in the Shrewsbury and West Shropshire Alliance League. (fn. 327) There were grass and hard tennis courts, a bowling green, and children's amusements in Broad Meadow park between the railway line and the by-pass; given by the Bensons, its gates were made by a Belgian refugee living in the town c. 1915. (fn. 328) Beyond it, c. 1990, was an 18-hole miniature golf course.
In 1898 Church Stretton Golf Club was formed, and an 18-hole course, designed by James Braid and one of the highest in England, was laid out between Bodbury Hill and Cwmdale on part of the Long Mynd common leased to Church Stretton Land Co. Ltd. by the lord of the manor. The Shropshire amateur championship was played there in 1913, (fn. 329) and golf, tennis, and cricket competitions added to the attractions of Church Stretton's visitor season. (fn. 330)
The Church Stretton and South Shropshire arts festival began in 1967. (fn. 331) By 1990 it extended over 2 weeks during late July and early August and included choral, musical, and poetry recitals, concerts, professional acting, opera, and dance, and an exhibition, illustrated lecture, craft fair, and film show. Most events that year took place in schools in the town but two were performed in nearby villages. (fn. 332)
MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES.
In 1066 the manor of STRETTON, later known as STRETTON-EN-LE-DALE, was held by Edwin, earl of Mercia (d. 1071). Roger of Montgomery, created earl of Shrewsbury c. 1068, held it in chief in 1086, and it was forfeited to the Crown by the rebellion of his son Earl Robert in 1102. (fn. 333) The manor remained in the Crown until 1229. For much of the reigns of Henry II and his sons its revenues were assigned to successive keepers of Stretton castle. Between 1192 and 1194, however, they were enjoyed by William and James, sons of a former keeper, Simon, but not themselves keepers of the castle. (fn. 334)
In 1229 Henry III granted the manor in fee to Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, who had formerly farmed it. (fn. 335) He forfeited it in 1232. (fn. 336) In 1238 Henry III granted the manor in tenenciam to Henry de Hastings and his wife Ada, a sister and coheir of John, earl of Chester (d. 1237), in lieu of her purparty of the earldom of Chester, (fn. 337) but in 1245 it was resumed by the Crown. (fn. 338) In 1267 Henry III granted the manor, with other estates, to Hamon le Strange of Wrockwardine, an old friend and companion in arms of the king and of his son Edward; the grant was to Hamon and his heirs until the king should provide them with other land worth £100 a year. (fn. 339) About 1270, before leaving on the ninth crusade, Hamon assigned Stretton to his sister Hawise, wife of Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn, lord of southern Powys. (fn. 340) Early in 1273, when Hamon's death overseas became known, Stretton was resumed by the Crown as an unlicensed alienation, though from 1275 Hawise was allowed all the manor's revenues for life. Hawise died in 1310 and Edmund FitzAlan, earl of Arundel, then entered into possession, having been granted the reversion of the manor for life in 1309. (fn. 341)
Arundel's estates were forfeited to the Crown on his execution in 1326, and in 1327 Stretton was granted for life to Roger de Mortimer of Wigmore, created earl of March in 1328. In 1330 March was granted the manor in fee simple but later that year, on his fall from power, the manor reverted to the Crown, (fn. 342) and in 1336 Edward III granted it in fee to Richard FitzAlan, earl of Arundel (d. 1376). (fn. 343) In 1397, after the impeachment, forfeiture, and execution of his son Earl Richard, the king granted the manor to the steward of his household Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester. Worcester surrendered it to the Crown in 1399 in exchange for an Exchequer annuity granted by Henry IV. Thomas FitzAlan, restored in 1400 to the earldom of Arundel and to his father's estates, (fn. 344) died seised of the manor in 1415 when it passed to his cousin Sir John d'Arundel. Sir John, probably never recognized as earl of Arundel, died in 1421 (fn. 345) and his son John inherited the manor. He was certainly recognized as earl in 1433, was created duke of Touraine in France in 1434, and died in 1435. (fn. 346) Thereafter the manor descended with the earldom of Arundel until its presumed settlement on Arundel's elder daughter and coheir Jane on her marriage to Sir John Lumley, Lord Lumley. The Lumleys had an interest in the manor by 1562, when it was probably mortgaged, (fn. 347) and courts were held in Lumley's name 1566-7. In 1576 the childless Lumleys sold it to a former lord mayor of London, Sir Rowland Hayward, probably a mortgagee since 1566. (fn. 348) Hayward settled it in marriage on his daughter and son-in-law Joan and John (kt. 1603) Thynne. (fn. 349)
Sir John Thynne died in 1604, (fn. 350) his widow Joan in 1612. (fn. 351) After Joan's death the manor descended with the manors of Caus and Minsterley (fn. 352) until 1714 when, upon the 1st Lord Weymouth's death, Stretton manor passed to his widowed daughter-in-law, Mrs. Grace Thynne, for life. On her death in 1725 (fn. 353) the manor again descended with Caus and Minsterley in the Thynne family (fn. 354) until 1803 when Lord Bath sold it to Thomas Coleman of Leominster (Herefs.). (fn. 355)
In 1808 Coleman settled the manor on the marriage of his son T. B. Coleman, rector 1807-18, with Anne Gregory Stackhouse. Mrs. Coleman was lady of the manor during her widowhood, 1818-62, and was succeeded by her grandson E. B. Coleman (from 1878 Proctor) of Aberhafesp (Mont.). (fn. 356) In 1888 Proctor sold the manor with 433 a. to R. B. Benson of Lutwyche. (fn. 357) Benson died in 1911 and the manor passed to his son Maj. G. R. Benson, who sold it in 1925 to A. S. Browne of Hanwood House. (fn. 358) Rex D. Cohen of Condover, a Liverpool businessman, bought it in 1926. He died in 1928 and in 1934 his representatives sold it to Max V. Wenner of Betchcott. (fn. 359) Wenner died in 1937 leaving it to his friend and agent William Humphrey, of Stiperstones and later of Walcot. (fn. 360) Humphrey died in 1963 (fn. 361) and in 1964 his executors sold the manor and his land on the Long Mynd to Ingleby Holdings Ltd. of Birmingham. The company, which had acquired the estate in trust for the National Trust conveyed it to the Trust in 1965 and the Trust has remained owner of the manor. (fn. 362)
West of the Port Way the land bought from Humphrey's executors in 1964 consisted of some 1,205 a. of open common, parts of Ratlinghope and Medlicott manors; (fn. 363) east of the Port Way the land comprised almost all the uninclosed common of Stretton-en-le-Dale, evidently some 3,260 a. In 1965, soon after its acquisition of the manor, the Trust extended its property southwards by buying Minton Hill, the 755 a. of common belonging to Minton manor. (fn. 364) Later, between 1972 and 1986, it rounded off its Long Mynd estate by buying a small property in Carding Mill valley with 250 a. of surrounding common, (fn. 365) several small parcels of land formerly belonging to water authorities, (fn. 366) and the 25-a. Batch Land, All Stretton. (fn. 367)
Before 1066 WOMERTON was held as four manors by four free thegns Auti, Einulfr (Einulf), Argrimr (Aregrim), and Arnketil (Archetel). In 1086, as part of Condover hundred, it was held of the earl of Shrewsbury by Robert fitz Corbet. The earl's tenure in chief lapsed after 1102. (fn. 368) Robert died after 1121. (fn. 369) Womerton seems not to have been retained by the descendants of either of Robert's daughters and coheirs (fn. 370) but was eventually absorbed into the royal manor of Stretton and thus transferred to Munslow hundred. (fn. 371)
Leofric, earl of Mercia (d. 1057), held MINTON and Whittingslow as 4 hides; by 1086 they lay within Earl Roger's 'farm' at Stretton. (fn. 372) Earl Roger's son, Earl Robert, forfeited his English estates by rebellion in 1102, (fn. 373) and perhaps from Henry I's reign Minton came to be held of the Crown in serjeanty.
One Fulk may have received an estate in Minton as a king's serjeant during Henry I's reign, (fn. 374) but the first certainly recorded serjeant there was Walter of Minton, fl. 1199-1211; he held 1½ carucate in Minton as forester or keeper of the Long forest. His successor, probably his son, Richard of Minton occurred in the 1220s and early 1230s (fn. 375) and alienated some of his estate. (fn. 376) Peter of Minton, whose relationship to Richard is uncertain, held the serjeanty in the late 1240s and 1250s and was said to be keeper of the Long forest, of its hays of Bushmoor and Hawkhurst, of the forest of Stretton, and of Heywood on Wenlock Edge. He died c. 1261. His son John of Minton died in 1263 leaving, besides a widow Isabel who claimed dower, three sisters as coheirs: Alice, the wife of Saer Mauveysin of Berwick; Agnes, the wife of Richard de Grymenhull; and Margery, who married William le Fleming of Whitcot. (fn. 377) John's inheritance was divided between his sisters in 1266: the widowed Margery held property in Minton as late as 1292 and made provision for her daughters there, and Agnes's widower Richard de Grymenhull held her part of the Minton estate by the curtesy until he died (leaving three married daughters) in 1308. Alice and Saer Mauveysin, however, seem to have received more of her father's estate than her sisters, and Saer (d. 1283) and his son Peter (d. 1298) did the serjeant's duties, did homage for the estate, and were regarded as tenants of the vill. (fn. 378) Peter Mauveysin's son John died in 1324 (fn. 379) and John's son John (II) in 1326. John's son John (III) was lord of Minton in 1347-8, (fn. 380) but the male line of the Mauveysins was probably extinct by 1397 or thereabouts. (fn. 381) The Mauveysins' successors held the manor divided into fractions which (at least as recorded in their respective deeds) did not add up to unity.
Hugh Stapleton owned half of Minton in 1478 and sold it in 1484 to Sir Robert Corbet of Moreton Corbet, owner in 1509-10. It evidently descended with Moreton until Robert Corbet's death in 1583, when his share of Minton passed to his daughter Elizabeth, who married Sir Henry Wallop, of Farleigh Wallop (Hants). Their son Robert, the regicide, sold it to Richard Minton of Minton in 1655. (fn. 382)
In 1442-3 Ralph Lingen died owning a third of Minton, (fn. 383) which then descended, in the Lingens of Sutton St. Nicholas (Herefs.), with Yockleton and Stoney Stretton (in Westbury) until they were sold in 1641; Minton and Yockleton may have been in the hands of the Crown or trustees after the death (1610) of Jane Shelley (née Lingen), who left many charitable legacies and was the widow of a recusant involved in Throckmorton's plot (1583). (fn. 384) In 1660 Sir Henry Lingen and his wife Alice sold their share of Minton to two brothers Richard and Thomas Minton, of Minton; in 1668 Richard conveyed his interest, perhaps including his interest in the Wallop share, to Thomas (d. 1674).
Thomas Kynaston, of Shotton, owned another third of Minton in 1509-10. He died without issue, probably leaving the Minton estate to his first cousin George Kynaston, of Oteley, owner in the 1520s and 1541-2. George died in 1543 and the property descended in the Kynastons of Oteley from father to son, the following being owners: Francis (d. 1581), Sir Edward (d. 1641), Sir Francis (d. 1652), Edward (d. 1656), and Sir Francis who died childless in 1661. The estate then passed successively to Sir Francis's brother Edward and to Edward's son Charles. Charles Kynaston and his wife Alice sold the property to Thomas Minton in 1704. (fn. 385)
Thus in 1704 Thomas Minton, son of the Thomas who had died in 1674, became owner of the whole manor. He died in 1726 and the manor passed successively to his son Thomas (d. 1737) and to the younger Thomas's son Thomas. The last named died in 1765 leaving a widow Sarah (d. 1789), who had a life interest in his estate, and three young daughters, Anne, Priscilla who married Thomas Beddoes of Cheney Longville in 1773, and Mary who married Delabere Pritchett of Brimfield (Herefs.) in 1777. Anne died a minor, unmarried, in 1766. On Mary Pritchett's death (by 1784) without surviving issue her interest in the estate passed to her husband; he died in 1806 and the whole estate thus came eventually to Priscilla (d. 1819) and Thomas (d. 1822) Beddoes and descended to their son Thomas Beddoes (d. 1837) (fn. 386) and then to his widow Jane. (fn. 387) By 1851 their son Dr. W. M. Beddoes was lord. He died in 1870 leaving his estate to his widow Laura Seraphina as his 'executrix for life' and trustee; she died in 1890. (fn. 388) The estate descended to the Beddoeses' eldest son W. F. Beddoes, a barrister, on whose death without issue in 1928 it passed to his nephew E. W. Minton Beddoes. (fn. 389) When the latter died in 1952 his executors immediately offered Minton House (formerly White Birches) for sale with c. 208 a., and later that year c. 1,360 a. of settled estate was offered for sale, though without mention of any manorial rights. (fn. 390) E. W. Minton Beddoes's son and heir S. W. Minton Beddoes, who sold Minton hill common to the National Trust in 1965, (fn. 391) remained lord of the manor in 1969.
BOTVYLE may have been the mainly demesne portion of an estate in Lydley manor, 2 tenanted virgates of which, called 'Botley', were given to the Templars in the later 1150s and included in their parish of Cardington. (fn. 392) Botvyle, though mainly in Stretton parish, (fn. 393) remained wholly in Lydley and Cardington manor, and Thomas Botvyle held a copyhold estate there by 1439, as did his descendants until the 18th century and again in the 19th. (fn. 394)
Richard Botvyle (d. 1732) of Ludlow, formerly of Botvyle, left all his estate to his cousin Richard Botvyle, a Shrewsbury saddler. Nevertheless Botvyle descended to his nephew and heir Benjamin Botvyle, a minor, and in 1742 Benjamin, then a London vintner, sold Botvyle to the son and namesake of his uncle's legatee. Like his father the younger Richard Botvyle was a Shrewsbury saddler and, as tenant of 'Berry's messuage', a Stretton copyholder too. (fn. 395) After the younger Richard's death Botvyle, mortgaged since 1724 or earlier, was held by his widow Martha. (fn. 396) In 1760 she passed it to her son Thomas, a Shrewsbury saddler, and he immediately sold it to Moses Luther. It later passed to Luther's son-in-law, the Revd. Richard Wilding (d. 1820). (fn. 397) By 1838 the Wilding estate in Stretton parish amounted to 762 a., almost all around Botvyle. (fn. 398) In 1856 the Wildings sold it, encumbered, to Beriah Botfield of Norton Hall (Northants.), a descendant of Thomas Botvyle (fl. 1439). The same year Botfield also bought the Botvyle property of Thomas Duppa Duppa, of Cheney Longville, in 1838 the owner of 72 a. there, (fn. 399) where the Duppas had been copyholders since 1709. (fn. 400)
Botfield died in 1863, and his relict Mrs. Alfred Seymour (d. 1911) held the estate (c. 650 a.) for life. Botfield's disposition of his whole estate, no less than his acquisitions of parts of it, was dictated by genealogical sentiment, and under his will it passed in 1911 to Lord Alexander Thynne. He was killed in action in 1918, (fn. 401) and his estate passed to his sister Lady Beatrice Thynne. She sold some of the Botvyle property in 1920, but at her death in 1941 what remained passed to her nephew Henry Frederick Thynne, Viscount Weymouth. He, having succeeded as 6th marquess of Bath in 1946, sold the rest next year 'solely' to pay death duties. (fn. 402)
The house that descended from Moses Luther to the Wildings and in 1792 was reputed the Thynnes' old seat (though mistakenly, as it had descended in the younger, Botvyle, line) is Upper Botvyle Farmhouse or Botvyle Farm. It has a cement-rendered Georgian north-west front with a central door in panelled pilastered frame beneath a fanlight and bracketed hood. That suggests an early 19th-century house, but the front was rebuilt after a fire, and timber framing is exposed at the rear; a timber-framed cross wing was demolished, probably c. 1980. Lower Botvyle, or Botvyle Farmhouse, on the Duppa estate in the early 19th century, is said to have a possibly early 17th-century core; greatly altered in modern times, it was for a time called the Old Manor. (fn. 403)
Long before the final definition of Strettonen-le-Dale's manorial customs in 1670, (fn. 404) indeed before the end of the Middle Ages, Stretton customary tenants seem to have cast off the character of a peasantry in preparation for that of a parish gentry. Their progress, running ahead of the conversion of villeinage to copyhold, (fn. 405) doubtless sprang from the relative prosperity and independence which they enjoyed without a resident lord. (fn. 406) The Heynes and Higgins (or Hughes) families (both eventually armigerous), for example, were settled in the manor by the 14th century, (fn. 407) and in the 15th century the Higginses provided two rectors of the parish church (fn. 408) while in the early 16th century Thomas Heynes married a daughter of Humphrey Gatacre of Gatacre. (fn. 409) The Thynnes were an offshoot of the Botvyles. In 1439 Thomas Botvyle, the reputed restorer of the family fortunes, settled the family's ancient copyhold estate on his younger son John, separating it from their freehold property there and elsewhere in the parish: that evidently went to the elder son William, who bought other land. William's grandson John Botvyle, perhaps from residence in the family house or inn in Church Stretton, was called Thynne (o'th' Inn). The 1439 division of property did not deprive the elder line of all land at Botvyle, for in 1497 Thomas Thynne and William Botvyle, descendants of the elder and younger lines respectively, both held land there, as did John Thynne in 1524. Thomas Thynne's younger brother William held land in Church Stretton in 1497, and the Thynnes remained Stretton copyholders, though they were of much greater consequence elsewhere after the first Thynne's great-grandson, Sir John (d. 1580), had built Longleat. Sir John's son (d. 1604) and namesake became lord of Stretton-en-le-Dale in his wife's right in 1576, and his descendants retained the manor until 1803. (fn. 410)
Landed families established elsewhere became Stretton copyholders. The Leightons, lords of Leighton, obtained land in the manor, and began to live there, in the later 14th century when John Leighton married Walter Cambray's daughter and heir Maud; about that time the Leightons also gained forfeited lands of the Botvyles. John Leighton's successors as head of the family continued to live in Stretton until Sir Edward moved to Wattlesborough, leasing his 'great house' in Stretton to his younger brother Devereux c. 1592. (fn. 411) Meanwhile other Leightons had acquired Stretton lands, and among the copyholds which Bonham Norton bought in the early 17th century (fn. 412) were those of Sir Edward's kinsmen William Leighton (probably of Plaish) (fn. 413) and Nicholas Leighton (probably of Coats). (fn. 414)
The existence of a brisk land market and the occasional growth of some copyhold estates at the expense of others are themes latent in the court records from the time (1721) of their regular survival (fn. 415) and assumable for earlier periods as the processes which brought some parish families into prominence. Those same processes also continued to make Stretton land available to gentry landowners from outside the manor: in 1742, for instance, the heirs of Thomas Duppa of Rye Felton (in Bromfield) sold Bright's messuage to William Davies, gent leman, of Charlton (in Wrockwardine), (fn. 416) and in 1750 the Sandfords of the Isle sold the Little Stretton Hall copyhold (including Bright's messuage also known as the Lower living) to John Baker of Uppington, gentleman. (fn. 417) Among outsiders who seized opportunities to invest in Stretton land on a significant scale two men, Bonham Norton in the early 17th century and the Revd. R. N. Pemberton in the earlier 19th century, are particularly noteworthy for seeming to fulfil, even if briefly, some of the functions of a principal resident landowner in the lord of the manor's absence.
The London stationer Bonham Norton (d. 1635) (fn. 418) bought up 9 or 10 copyholds in the manor and probably the former demesne wood at Bushmoor (in Wistanstow) too; many of his estates were acquired from prominent manorial families. Perhaps most of his purchases were made soon after the town fire of 1593, for in 1603 he was licensed to let his customary lands for 500 years and by 1613 he evidently owned much land in the manor. (fn. 419) In 1616 he was described as 'lord [sic] of the larger part of the lands and possessions' in the town and was then granted a market. Tacitly or otherwise, therefore, the lord of the manor seems to have waived his own claim to market rights (doubtless long neglected), (fn. 420) perhaps in acknowledgment of Norton's role as the town's leading landowner and rebuilder; and it was from the lord's demesne woods that Norton received building timber. (fn. 421) Probably well supplied with ready money, Norton may have aimed to profit from the fire's effects on local property values and from building work. He was also intent on establishing a seat there, in the county from which his family sprang and where he was sheriff in 1611: for, besides his market house, a school, and a court house, (fn. 422) his other known building work was THE HALL on the west side of the back lane, just north of the end of Cub Lane. (fn. 423) Westwards his private grounds evidently ran uphill to include, on the edge of the Long Mynd common, a warren including Over field, one of the town's open fields 'above Mr. Norton's house'. (fn. 424) Park House, opposite the Hall, may thus have originated as a parker's or warrener's lodge, but later the Hall stables seem to have been there. (fn. 425) Norton's son Arthur married the heiress of George Norton of Abbot's Leigh (Som.), where their descendants lived, (fn. 426) and the Hall, the town's principal house, (fn. 427) was probably let. Sold when the Norton estate was broken up in 1714, the Hall, a 'large timbered mansion', was taken down by the rector, T. B. Coleman, probably not long before his death in 1818. (fn. 428)
R. N. Pemberton, rector 1818-48 and patron, accumulated a considerable private estate in the parish, much of it adjoining the glebe so that his two estates, fenced as one, surrounded the Rectory with large private grounds to the west of the town but secluded from it; his grounds probably occupied much of the same land as Bonham Norton's two centuries before. In accordance with Pemberton's will a kinsman succeeded to his benefice and also to his private estate; but he died within a year, and, although succeeding rectors lived in gentlemanly style in the best house in the parish, (fn. 429) their inheritance was less splendid than Pemberton had planned for one who, though not lord of the manor, would in all other ways have been a very wellto-do 'squarson'.
Stretton copyhold estates, though heritable, have not left notable or easily identifiable houses: standing in the principal settlements, they were liable to tenurial, as well as physical, separation from their lands and also to rebuilding. Houses of the Higginses and Brookes and the Gibbon family's estate are cases in point.
The copyhold 'house on the Bank called Higgins House' was in All Stretton, where Higginses had been settled by the 14th century. In 1658 it belonged to John and Elizabeth Kyte, probably as heirs to a branch of the Higginses since their son was called Higgins Kyte; (fn. 430) it probably stood just a little south of the Grove. (fn. 431) There was another BANK HOUSE in Church Stretton: that was the 'pretty house' north of the church, c. 1540 residence of the attorney Francis Brooke, fifth son of John Brooke of Blacklands (in Bobbington). Francis had settled in the town and become deputy steward of the manor; he prospered and in 1563 bought from the earl of Arundel a farm, Ragleth wood, and the demesne mill on Nash brook, an estate that was held in chief by knight service; the farmstead was evidently in Church Stretton town, probably near the north end, as that was where the town fire of 1593 began. Brooke died in 1582. (fn. 432) In 1603 his grandson Edward Brooke the younger married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Higgins of All Stretton, evidently a freeholder, most of whose land the couple evidently obtained. (fn. 433) Another Edward Brooke owned the Bank House in 1681, (fn. 434) and it descended to Thomas Brooke (d. 1742). Thomas's daughter and heir Elizabeth (d. 1785) married a Shrewsbury solicitor Edward Lloyd (d. 1790), and in 1835 his kinswomen, the Misses Lloyd, sold the estate, or part of it, to the rector, R. N. Pemberton. In the 18th century the Brookes built a brick mansion, evidently near the old Bank House, which still stood in 1861. Both had gone by 1892 (when the building of the present Bank House began), the old house some years before. (fn. 435)
A Little Stretton estate comprised three ancient copyhold messuages (eventually two houses only): Bonham Norton's, John Thynne's of Deverill, and the Medlicotts (earlier Vernolds and Hayles), (fn. 436) or parts of their lands. It was acquired by the Jones family, whose estate was sold out of Chancery in 1724. The purchaser John Brewster, of Burton Court (in Eardisland, Herefs.), sold it in 1761 to Thomas More the younger (d. 1767), of Millichope, whose representatives sold it to Thomas Gibbon (d. 1789), of the Marsh (in Wistanstow), in 1781. (fn. 437) In 1796 Gibbon's son and namesake owned 97 a. extending along most of the northern boundary of Little Stretton township as far east as the lowest slopes of Ragleth hill; the chief house, presumably representing one or more of the old copyhold messuages, stood apart from the lands, in Little Stretton village, and was later known as the MANOR HOUSE. (fn. 438) The younger Thomas Gibbon's estate passed to his brother Edward, after whose death in 1855 it remained in the Gibbons' hands for a century or more.
In the 19th century the head of the Gibbon family was often an absentee, residing near Liverpool, but other members lived in the Manor House, (fn. 439) and the estate was enlarged to from time to time. Still 97 a. in 1838, (fn. 440) it was c. 332 a. by c. 1910. (fn. 441) To Manor House farm Edward Gibbon (d. 1897) added the small Malt House farm (formerly Thynne's messuage) bought from the Robinsons in 1872. His executors continued to buy land: notably, in 1902 and 1904, most of Old Hall farm (including, besides the Hall, the ancient Medlicott's and one of the Bright's messuages, both enfranchised in 1881) and in 1920 the 150-a. Brook farm (including the other Bright's messuage and Harrington's). (fn. 442) Those acquisitions were made during the time of Edward Gibbon's daughter-in-law, Mrs. A. E. Gibbon, who lived in the Manor House from 1896 until her death in 1932. In 1942 her sons sold c. 58 a. of the land bought in 1902 (which had enlarged Malt House farm), and the estate was presumably broken up c. 1958 when her younger son, E. L. L. Gibbon, left the Manor House. (fn. 443) At its greatest extent the Gibbons' Little Stretton estate included several ancient copyhold messuages: besides those mentioned above, Humphrey Child's (fn. 444) and Lloyd's or Pigge's. (fn. 445) The Gibbons were descended from Thomas Bridgman, a Little Stretton tanner (fn. 446) and owner of part of Lloyd's or Pigge's copyhold, (fn. 447) the chief messuage of which was added to the Gibbon estate in 1901. (fn. 448) There was more than one branch of Little Stretton Bridgmans, and in the earlier 18th century a John Bridgman had been tenant, under the copyhold owner, of the Hall farm, (fn. 449) most of which the Gibbons bought in 1902 and 1904. (fn. 450)
The Manor House has a cruck hall with inserted floor and cross wings at the north and south ends. The main front, to the west, is of five bays, with brick covering some of the framing; the two cross wings have restored jettied tiebeams and brackets; the central entrance has an 18th-century pilastered doorcase with moulded pediment. The north wing is 17th-century with later additions, some of the visible timbers covering earlier framing. A stone chimney projecting from the restored north wall has a tall brick stack. Inside there is a Jacobean staircase. (fn. 451)
By 1086 the 8-hide manor of Stretton had 3 ploughteams on the demesne, and 12 other teams belonged to 27 other men: 18 villani, 8 bordars, and a priest. There was room to employ 6 more teams. The teams were presumably distributed between the Strettons and perhaps Minton and even Whittingslow too, for no such information is recorded for those two manors, together rated as 4 hides; in 1086 both lay in Earl Roger's farm at Stretton and may earlier (by 1066) have been two of Stretton's four berewicks, the others likely to have been All and Little Stretton. (fn. 452) At Womerton (2½ hides) 2 villani had ½ ploughteam, but most of that manor was waste and there was land enough for 5 teams. (fn. 453) Botvyle was probably in the Domesday manor of Lydley. (fn. 454)
Church Stretton seems to have had three open fields: the largest was probably Ashbrook or Nashbrook field north-east of the town and east of the road to All Stretton; (fn. 455) Snatch field lay beneath Hazler hill; (fn. 456) and Overfield or the Upper field, probably the smallest, was above the town to the west. (fn. 457) Open fields in Womerton probably lay north and east of the settlement, with Womerton wood and Lower wood beyond. (fn. 458) All Stretton had two or three open fields. North of the village lay what, in the mid 17th century, was called the field towards the Long Mynd; (fn. 459) north-east of the village, and as far east as the lowest slopes of Caer Caradoc field names indicate other areas of former open field. (fn. 460) Nearby, in Botvyle, field names and perhaps shapes suggest the existence of small open fields to the south. (fn. 461) Little Stretton's Ashletts or Ashley field and Raven field lay north and north-west of that village, separated by the stream draining down Ashes Hollow. West and south of the village were other open fields, perhaps fragmented by 1597 when several names are recorded: Callow field, perhaps containing Oxen field and Accurse (Skerrs?) field, to the west beneath Callow hill; Knappall (Napper) field south of the village; and farther south Hawarton field probably extending from the south end of Ragleth to the lane to Minton, and so crossed by the road to Marshbrook. (fn. 462) Minton's open fields seem to have lain south-east of the village (between the lanes to Marshbrook and Whittingslow), east of it, and farther away to the south-west either side of the lane to Hamperley and near that hamlet. (fn. 463)
The open fields were probably disappearing in the early 17th century when, for example, Church Stretton's Overfield or Upper field was absorbed into Bonham Norton's new rabbit warren. (fn. 464)
By far the greatest parts of the territories of the manors of Stretton (which absorbed Womerton after 1086) and Minton were occupied by the vast Long Mynd forest or common to the west. (fn. 465) Callow brook formed the boundary between the two manors and eventually separated their Long Mynd commons too. (fn. 466) Botvyle, along with other settlements in Lydley and Cardington manor, enjoyed common rights on Caer Caradoc hill, which was wooded perhaps as late as Charles I's reign. (fn. 467)
There were 5 'hays' in Stretton's woodland in 1086. (fn. 468) 'Stretton forest' and the Long Mynd were in the Long forest, whose keeper or forester, probably from Henry I's time, was the lord of Minton. (fn. 469) Stretton forest presumably comprised the demesne woods (perhaps identifiable with the Domesday hays) of the large royal manor of Stretton-en-le-Dale: on the east side of the dale Ragleth hill and presumably at least the western sides of Hazler and Helmeth hills; (fn. 470) in the north Womerton wood; and on the west the Long Mynd itself, where the wood of 'Netebech' (mentioned in 1235) probably lay, perhaps extending from Church Stretton to All Stretton and centred on the Batch north of Novers hill. When the Long forest was surveyed in 1235 the oak and underwood of the Long Mynd and Ragleth were well kept. In the northern part of 'Netebech', however, much oak had been felled for dread, it was alleged, of Welshmen, perhaps raiders lurking thereabouts: such perhaps had been the 57 whom Richard of Minton had killed in the dale two years before, receiving 57s. bounty for their heads; the Batch is overlooked by defensive enclosures at its head and on Novers hill. In Womerton wood much timber had formerly been felled for work on Shrewsbury and Stretton castles and for Roger Sprenchose's house at Longnor, but more recently the wood had been well kept. (fn. 471) Other gifts of timber suggest that the manor was well supplied: in 1245 the king gave three oaks from Stretton wood for an anchoress's house. (fn. 472) In the mid 13th century the lord of Minton, keeper of the forest, and the poor people of Stretton (as their only livelihood) kept goats on the manor's hills and in its woods, though generally goats were excluded when common woods were not plentiful. (fn. 473)
In the mid 13th century Stretton men with tenancies dating from King John's early years could take housebote and haybote under the oversight of the king's bailiff and had common for all their beasts at all seasons. Evidently free tenants could pannage their swine in the woods, giving the lord only the third best pig of the first seven and at no charge if they had fewer than seven. Copyholders had to give every tenth pig and 1d. for each pig over. Holders of more recent tenancies were at the king's will, as were tenants in avowry, who had no right to housebote and haybote save at the king's will. (fn. 474)
In the 13th century pressure on the king's forest and demesnes increased from the encroachments of landowners and others. The manor was amerced by the forest justices in 1209 for having openly made an assart. Haughmond abbey made a 2-a. purpresture c. 1235, and in 1250 the justice of the forest fined William of Church Stretton 10 marks for improving parts of the forest waste. Richard of Minton and Stephen of Hope had taken 50 a. of forest by 1255, and William English and the prior of Ratlinghope had made purprestures of ½ a. and 2 a. respectively. During the forest eyre of 1262 (when the regard was defined as that of the Long forest, Stretton dale, and the Long Mynd) continued waste of the king's wood of Stretton was alleged against the men of Stretton. Later the Templars were said to have taken 150 a. of land and 40 a. of wood in Stretton-en-le-Dale, part of which the king recovered in 1292. Peter Corbet of Caus was prosecuted for taking 40 a. of wood and 40 a. of pasture in Stretton, and his defence, that the premises were in Wentnor, (fn. 475) suggests encroachment on even the highest parts of the Long Mynd, near the boundary between the manors.
Minton and the demesnes of Stretton-en-leDale were not disafforested in 1301, although parts of the Long Mynd in other manors apparently were. (fn. 476) In 1309 Ragleth, a surviving wood of the Long forest in Stretton, was valued at 6s. 8d. a year: there was no high timber and the underwood could not be valued because Ragleth was a game covert. Womerton wood then consisted of tall oaks but no underwood; it was common pasture, and pannage yielded 6s. 8d. a year. The common pasture of the Stretton hills extended c. 10 leagues in circumference but was not valued because it was open to the whole country. (fn. 477) The canons of Haughmond, for example, who had estates around the northern end of the Long Mynd, had enjoyed large horse-pasture rights on it since 1175. (fn. 478)
The valuation of 1309 preceded the grant of the reversion of the manor in fee to the earl of Arundel, (fn. 479) and from 1310 the woods and demesnes of Stretton were evidently the earl's private chase, (fn. 480) which probably included the two hays of Bushmoor and Hawkhurst (in Wistanstow parish), where attachments and wood sales were being made for him in 1417-18; the lord of Stretton seems to have sold Bushmoor by 1613 but he still had the wood of Hawkhurst in the 1630s. (fn. 481) The chase evidently included Minton, for as late as 1582 that vill swore in Stretton court that their lordship had no land outside the vill's ring hedge and claimed nothing of the soil of Minton wood and the Long Mynd except common of pasture for their beasts. (fn. 482) In 1392-3 there were wood sales (old wood and an oak) from Womerton wood and attachments there, and Richard Hughes (Euges) was fined 3s. 4d. for entering the wood and cutting down ivies and branches of trees, presumably for litter and browse in the winter. Stray cattle and sheep in Minton were seized for the lord of Stretton, and in 1393 Arundel wrote of his concern for the damage done to 'our forest of Longmynd' by wild and other beasts. Accordingly his steward John Burley proclaimed in the manor court that all the lord's tenants and all others who intercommoned within the forest should mark their animals before Whit Sunday. Every year in Whit week and at All Saints the lord's officers were to ride the forest and seize every unmarked beast for him, the sale prices to be recorded in the manor court roll. (fn. 483)
Just as the extensive commons of the Long Mynd were intercommoned by surrounding vills so too some of Stretton-en-le-Dales's tenants, and other Church Stretton parishioners also, had additional rights elsewhere: still in the 1530s All Stretton and Botvyle were allegedly among the many townships entitled to intercommon Hay wood (in Eaton-under-Heywood) (fn. 484) and, more generally, the manor of Stretton was then claiming (though unsuccessfully) wide and exclusive common rights extending north into Church Pulverbatch parish around the open fields of Cothercott and Wilderley; in the mid 17th century similar claims were made, with slightly more success, against Betchcott and Picklescott (in Smethcott parish). (fn. 485)
Stretton never had a resident lord before 1808, (fn. 486) and the manorial demesnes were possibly let from an early date: in the later 1250s the men of Stretton were farming them for £24 a year, (fn. 487) and after the manor passed to the earl of Arundel in 1310 it is unlikely that much, if any, of the demesne arable was cultivated directly. (fn. 488) The lord had a flock of 233 sheep in 1349 and one of 240 in 1351, (fn. 489) and the demesne meadows were probably kept in hand only while such flocks were run: the former lord's goods seized in April 1331 had included hay sold for 6s. 8d. (fn. 490) Thus the demesne flock had probably gone by May 1393 when six lots of demesne meadow were let for a year to eight men for rents totalling £3 19s. 10d. (fn. 491) The lord's meadows were still farmed out in 1418 and 1531-2. (fn. 492) In 1418 the lord profited from agistment in 'Poulez' meadow, presumably one of the manor's common meadows, (fn. 493) and agistment was an obvious means of developing his income from a manor with such extensive commons. Though tenants were probably never stinted, the manor court could amerce individuals, whether tenants or strangers, who overburdened the commons. In 1596, however, it was stated that the lord could let agistments for sheep on the Long Mynd at his pleasure. (fn. 494)
Demesne enterprises were not easily kept profitable. The extensive wet land around Brockhurst (fn. 495) was to an extent organized as fishponds; in the 13th century, when the manor was royal demesne, the sheriff had been responsible for fishing and restocking them. (fn. 496) The waters also harboured swans: the earl of March's goods seized in the manor in 1331 included 5 swans, (fn. 497) and the earl of Arundel had 11 there in 1349 and 17 in 1351. (fn. 498) By the early 15th century, however, the ponds were shrinking, for in 1418- 19 the tenants, provisioned with bread and ale by the reeve, assembled to search for fish in the parts that were drying out and moved them to parts still under water. (fn. 499) Parts of the ponds, or former ponds, were evidently let out at that time, (fn. 500) probably as meadow. (fn. 501) Two cockshoots of the lord's yielded nothing in 1418, (fn. 502) but 'fishing' still brought him £1 13s. 4d. in 1531- 2. (fn. 503) The sale of some of the demesne pool land and marshy meadows near Brockhurst to Francis Brooke in 1563, (fn. 504) however, suggests that the pools had dried out by then. The lord let pastures in the demesne woods (e.g. Womerton and Ragleth) in the later Middle Ages, but income from the demesne woods could fall temporarily, as in 1418 when the lord received no pannage dues from Womerton because the mast had failed in 1417. (fn. 505) The lord's alienation (by 1613) of his demesne wood of Bushmoor, (fn. 506) however, meant a permanent loss of income. Bonham Norton seems to have acquired Bushmoor, probably soon after 1613, so it was probably still a useful source of timber then. (fn. 507)
At the 1255 inquest into regalian rights and foresters' doings Church Stretton was represented by its reeve, (fn. 508) whose office (mentioned in the 1230s) later evidence shows to have been served annually (fn. 509) by one of the principal tenants. The reeve, by the early 17th century known as the bailiff-reeve, was then accountable to the lord for manorial copyhold rents that were fixed and customary, set out in a rental supplied to him by the steward of the manor court and totalling £20 6s. 3½ d. year after year, (fn. 510) about the same as the sums recorded in 14th-, 15th-, and 16th-century valors and rentals. (fn. 511) Each of 52 ancient tenements also owed 2d. a year 'green', (fn. 512) representing the old forest vert. By the early 17th century the bailiff-reeve's office seems to have fossilized somewhat, like the rents for which he was responsible but which an under-bailiff collected. (fn. 513) Unlike his medieval predecessors (fn. 514) the bailiff-reeve could pass no arrears to his successor, and the lord could repossess his tenement for failure to account. (fn. 515) This primitive administration suggests some circumscribing of the lord's position within the manor just as, from the later 1630s, reliance on a distinct, probably newer, official suggests a seignurial reaction: the 'bailiff of the liberties of the manor', more directly the lord's appointee, (fn. 516) served during pleasure (fn. 517) and was called the 'deputed bailiff' in 1566. (fn. 518) The bailiff of the liberties was responsible for such casual income as felons' goods, (fn. 519) heriots, and waifs and strays, but by the later 1630s he was additionally called 'bailiff of the improved rents of Sir Thomas Thynne'. (fn. 520)
In 1634 a manorial jury inquired into many matters including particulars and bounds of the lord's demesnes, the number of mills, and the proliferation of cottages. The commons and wastes and the nature of copyhold titles, however, formed the burden of the jurors' inquiry. (fn. 521) Whether Stretton copyholds were heritable or transferred at the lord's will had been in contention since the 16th century and from the 1630s the lord was at odds with a generation of copyholders. (fn. 522) In 1625-6 Heynes's tenement was rented to the lord's brother, John Thynne, for an improved rent of £14 (in place of the old copyhold rent of c. 5s.) for which, from 1633-4, the bailiff of the liberties was answerable. (fn. 523) By the early 1660s Elizabeth Hearne and other copyholders were at law with the lord, Sir Henry Frederick Thynne, and his bailiff Thomas Harris, and eventually the lord lost: Stretton copyholds were adjudged heritable in 1670 when a body of manorial custom was confirmed in Chancery; (fn. 524) disputes between lord and tenants over heriots, however, were then still unsettled. (fn. 525)
Alienations of demesne in the 1560s and 1570s by the last FitzAlan earl of Arundel (fn. 526) and the copyholders' victory in 1670 meant that thereafter the lord could not hope materially to increase his income by improving his rental. He was left with copyhold incidents (heriots and fare fees, for example), pannage and wood sales, sale of agistments on the common, and such casual income as was afforded by felons' goods, waifs and strays, and perquisites of court. Even the market was not the lord's. After 1670 distinctions between the manor's copyholders and its ten or so free tenants were probably few, largely those associated with legal technicalities of inheritance and conveyancing. The enhanced security and capital value of copyhold estates produced a lively land market, and there were 87 landowners in the parish by 1792, 49 of them resident; in Church Stretton it was chiefly the smaller owners who resided. (fn. 527) Copyhold enfranchisement proceeded throughout the 19th century, (fn. 528) and the number of landowners increased greatly between c. 1840 and 1910, by the latter date including large numbers of householders living on their own property. (fn. 529) Except for the Long Mynd common, the land owned by the 19th- and 20th-century lords of the manor was not historic demesne but property acquired independently of the lordship. (fn. 530)
In 1280-1 a flock of 120 sheep belonging to Haughmond abbey was driven to the Long Mynd, (fn. 531) and sheep were always important in the local economy. Reference to the lord's flock in 1349 and 1351, (fn. 532) however, is not matched by much evidence concerning tenants' flocks. Sheep were occasionally recorded as strays. (fn. 533) The lord's right to sell sheep agistments, recorded in 1596, (fn. 534) indicates the Long Mynd's plentiful summer grazing, and tenants presumably took no less advantage of it than strangers did.
In the later 17th and early 18th century sheep and flock sizes were apparently increasing. (fn. 535) In the 1660s there were some very small flocks whose owners were probably not principally occupied in agriculture. (fn. 536) Although some leaving modest possessions (fn. 537) had sizeable flocks, (fn. 538) some apparently substantial farmers seem to have had no sheep: in March 1668 the goods of Randolph Jones, a Little Stretton yeoman, were valued at £243, but his livestock contributed little of the total value and included 4 cattle and c. 10 horses but no sheep. By the 1690s small flocks and substantial farmers without sheep seem to have been rarer. In the 1660s, moreover, men whose sheep were worth more than their cattle had few cattle, while a generation later men in the same situation seem to have had larger numbers of cattle but very many more sheep: flocks of 100 or more, and some of several hundred, were run. (fn. 539) Moses Eaton (d. 1702), a Church Stretton yeoman whose grandson and namesake (d. 1776) was to be described as 'gentleman' in 1757, (fn. 540) left a flock of 700 worth £140 and 51 cattle worth £98; he also had 13 horses and colts (£80), 18 swine (£6 10s.), and geese and poultry (£1).
Farming was mixed, if with a pastoral emphasis. Most substantial farmers kept livestock and grew corn and other grains: barley, oats, and peas were often specified, rye much more rarely. Hemp and flax were grown, and linen yarn and cloth, as well as wool, was stored, probably for domestic use. Pigs were widely kept but usually in small numbers that suggest domestic consumption, though William Tomkins (d. 1667), who had cattle but no sheep, may have kept pigs as part of a dairy enterprise, for he also left 100 cheeses. Some larger herds (e.g. 10, 12, and 18) were being kept by c. 1700, mainly by more substantial farmers; (fn. 541) they could perhaps afford to bring their stock to the attention of buyers attending the important swine fairs of north Shropshire. (fn. 542)
In the 1790s Edward Harries regarded the Long Mynd as among the principal 'extensive commons' of south-west Shropshire that were 'so elevated and so well calculated for sheep pastures, that perhaps they cannot be better applied'. (fn. 543) The Mynd gave its name to an indigenous breed, horned and black faced, nimble, hardy, and c. 10 lb. a quarter fatted; fleeces could yield ½ lb. of coarse wool and 2lb. of finer wool. (fn. 544) Late 18th-century improved farming claimed good results from crossing Longmynds and Southdowns, but the Longmynd became extinct in 1926. (fn. 545) In 1838 the commons were said to feed large numbers of sheep each summer, and 7,825 had been sheared. In winter, however, the dale could not support so many, and they had to be sold or 'tacked out'. (fn. 546)
Cattle may have been turned out on the common, as the names 'Netebech' and Bullocks Moor may suggest, and one farmer was alleged in 1760 to have turned out large numbers of sheep, horses, and cattle in the course of a dispute with a neighbour. (fn. 547) For centuries, however, sheep shared the Long Mynd principally with horses, and after the 1540 Act (fn. 548) the lord's officers took substandard horses and colts off the common. (fn. 549) By the later 17th century most husbandmen's livestock included horses, often one or two mares and colts, sometimes just an old nag. A few more substantial men (fn. 550) left horses numerous or valuable enough to suggest that they were breeding and rearing them. Moses Eaton had 13 horses and colts worth £80. His nearest rival was Griffith Gough (d. 1698) (fn. 551) who had 2 horses and 4 colts worth £15 10s. altogether, but the colts were probably on his Frodesley farm, for, like Eaton who had property in Hope Bowdler, (fn. 552) Gough's farming interests were not confined to one parish.
The importance of cattle, sheep, and horses at Stretton fairs (fn. 553) reflected a predominantly pastoral local economy. Fields tended to be small; so did farms, which averaged c. £40 a year in 1792. The most usual course of husbandry then was wheat, barley, oats, and fallow; some turnips were grown. (fn. 554) Arable farming became more profitable during the Napoleonic wars and was extended to parts of the Long Mynd that were then inclosed, sometimes temporarily. (fn. 555) The high grain prices of wartime, (fn. 556) however, did not last, and the common remained open, c. 1840 occupying c. 5,000 a. or virtually half of the parish. Less than a quarter of the rest of the parish was arable (1,227 a.), almost two thirds meadow or pasture (3,455 a.). (fn. 557) The arable lands, often on steep hillsides, were hard to cultivate: those facing north-west were very poor, ripening crops to perfection only in exceptional seasons. Over a shale rock the parish had two soil types. One, the 'sharp soil', was suited to barley and turnips, and the course there was turnips, barley, clover, and wheat; the other soil, cold poor clay, yielded only three white-straw crops in five years, the course being fallow, wheat, oats, clover, and wheat. In both courses the clover was half mown, half grazed. The only improvement detected was meadow irrigation; perhaps conversion of the old manorial fish pools to meadow in previous centuries had helped to establish the practice. Hauling manure up the steep hillsides and carrying produce home were difficult, and there were no signs of high farming or the necessary manuring. (fn. 558) Nevertheless in the mid 19th century the area of arable cultivation expanded slightly. (fn. 559)
From the mid 19th century arable enterprise declined sharply, and as it did so oats became the most important crop. In the 1960s barley replaced oats, though arable acreages were by then very small, having shrunk from 944 a. in 1867 to 893 a. in 1905 (when 3,411 a. were under permanent grass) and 382 a. by 1965. The number of pigs declined in relative importance, varying little from an average of just under 300. Cattle remained fairly constantly c. 9 per cent of livestock, a proportion which masks an increase in numbers from 425 in 1867 to 974 in 1938 and 1,708 by 1957, with a slight drop by 1965 to 1,632. What kept the increasing numbers of cattle a steady percentage of livestock was the very great increase in sheep stocking levels in the 20th century: by 1938 there were 9,500 in place of the 19th-century average of just under 7,600, but there were 10,106 by 1945, 13,396 by 1957, and 16,410 by 1965. (fn. 560)
Sources: P.R.O., MAF 68/143, no. 20; /1340, no. 6; /3880, Salop. nos. 217-18, 220; /4945, nos. 217-218, 220. The 1938 return has been brougth into conformity with the others by excluding the area of the Long Mynd registered common (cf. V.C.H. Salop. iv. 256) from the 'rough grazings'.
The great increase of sheep was made possible by the Long Mynd's unstinted (fn. 561) supply of common grazing, whose preservation was the responsibility of a committee appointed under an agreement concluded in 1869 between the lord of the manor and a commoners' association formed in 1868. Sheep and ponies were the objects of concern: (fn. 562) cattle and pigs were then animals of enclosed lands, but for centuries horses had shared the Long Mynd with sheep, and in the late 19th and early 20th century they did so in considerable numbers. A Long Mynd hill pony improvement association was formed in 1890, under the presidency of John Hill of Felhampton. Its work included the elimination of substandard stallions, and it held an annual show with prizes and Board of Agriculture pre miums. (fn. 563) The association necessarily worked closely with the Longmynd Hills Committee, formed after the 1908 Commons Act was adopted in 1913, to keep up the standard of rams and stallions on the common, which it drove regularly. (fn. 564) By the mid 1930s, however, interest in pony improvement was falling off, and after the Second World War the Long Mynd became in effect a sheep common. (fn. 565)
By 1990 there were though to be c. 18,000 sheep on the Long Mynd as a whole, and in 1994 its owner, the National Trust, estimated that an average of 5½ ewes per hectare were grazing the Long Mynd as a whole 'most of the year'. Such stocking levels, a result of subsidy payments to hill farmers, were 5½ times the level that the common could sustain: combined with bracken spraying and taking feed out to sheep, overstocking was destroying the historic vegetation that had resulted from centuries of manorial management. In 1994, with the National Trust's concurrence, the Ministry of Agriculture and the commoners agreed to halve stocking levels over the next few years. (fn. 566)
About a twentieth of the parish (564 a.) was wooded c. 1840. (fn. 567) The largest surviving woods, then as a century and a half later, clothed the hillsides in the central part of the parish: from the Rectory grounds to Brockhurst, and, across the dale, Helmeth hill and the western slopes of Hazler and Ragleth hills. Elsewhere some of the more isolated woods, coppices, and plantations, especially in the north, disappeared as the wooded area shrank, a notable example being most of the 46 a. of plantations south-west of High Park House, which had gone by 1882. (fn. 568) Woods and plantations occupied 473 a. in 1905. There were more losses in the north in the 20th century, but the central part of the dale lost little woodland in the 20th century, though Helmeth (previously coppiced) seems to have been cleared during the First World War (fn. 569) and Hazler coppice had gone by 1925, (fn. 570) though the woodland later recovered.
The mill in Stretton manor in 1086 and 1309 (fn. 571) may have been 'Brooks mill', the later Carding Mill. In 1563 the lord sold to Francis Brooke a mill on Nash brook, which was said in 1885 to have been a demesne mill for upwards of four centuries; soon after buying it the Brookes rebuilt it. (fn. 572) Called Stretton's Mill in the 1680s and 1690s, it then worked in conjunction with a forge. (fn. 573) It was an old thatched building called Brooks mill c. 1812 and was then demolished; the new building, intended for a corn mill, was adapted to become the Carding Mill. (fn. 574)
Thomas Hawkes (d. 1704), of Botvyle, owned Church Stretton property on which, it was said in 1733, two fulling mills had once stood; the property, near Brook House, was still known as the walk mills in 1817. (fn. 575)
Richard Higgins owned a mill in All Stretton in 1599. (fn. 576) Neither its site, nor that of Borton's or Burton's mill, All Stretton, mentioned in 1663 and occupied by the prosperous yeoman farmer John Harrington (d. c. 1702), (fn. 577) is definitely known. One or both may have been the mill between All Stretton and Botvyle (fn. 578) eventually known as Dudgeley mill. Nevertheless there was possibly a mill near the village. (fn. 579)
In 1808 the only mill in All Stretton seems to have been that known by 1785 as Dagers mill, formerly William Lutwyche's. (fn. 580) About 1812 it was carding wool, a business then transferred to the rebuilt Brooks mill, Church Stretton. John Williams worked Dagers mill c. 1840 on the Wilding estate. (fn. 581) The mill became known as Dudgeley mill, and the Hince family, also farmers, worked it throughout the later 19th century and for a few years thereafter; in 1871 George Hiles was probably running the mill for Charles Hince of Dudgeley House. (fn. 582) By 1909 it was occupied by the Williamses (fn. 583) who bought it from Lady Beatrice Thynne (fn. 584) in 1920 and owned it until the mid 1960s. Bread flour was ground until 1917, thereafter barley and other meals and animal feed. New machinery was installed in 1941 and the mill was grinding c. 300 tons a year during the Second World War but only 150-200 tons by 1964, when, for 'a few years' past, it had been driving a dynamo. When sold in 1968 the mill property included c. 20 a. of pasture and pools, buildings for a small farm, and common rights on the Long Mynd and the Cwms. It ceased working c. 1970.
In 1327 Lawrence the miller paid tax in Little Stretton. (fn. 585) Little Stretton mill yielded the lord 6s. 8d. in 1531-2 (fn. 586) and was probably the mill of 'Lytyleston' which had not yielded the 6s. 8d. due in 1528-9 because it was untenanted and in need of rebuilding. (fn. 587) It is probably the one that stood in the village, on Ashes brook just above the Ludlow road; in 1838 it belonged to John Bridgman who had the adjacent tanyard. (fn. 588) Nevertheless a second mill site is known, that of Oakley or Hockley mill on the right bank of Callow brook, just above a waterfall on the Long Mynd common; (fn. 589) it is not known when it worked.
In 1392 Roger Salter held a mill in Minton manor. (fn. 590) It was probably the later Quembatch or Quenbatch mill, two corn mills under one roof near the Acton Scott boundary in 1597. (fn. 591) In 1723 Richard Leighton, of Leighton, leased it for 21 years, with land, to Robert Powell, a Whittingslow yeoman; then described as three corn or grist mills under one roof, it stood on Caudwell brook, (fn. 592) presumably an alternative name for Quinny brook. (fn. 593) In 1803 Robert Pemberton leased it for 19 years to Jasper Jones of Ryton after they had combined to build a new mill designed by the Shrewsbury ironfounder William Hazledine. (fn. 594) By 1840 James Hiles occupied it, with c. 10 a., under Pemberton's son, the rector. (fn. 595) From the mid 19th century until 1941 or later, known eventually as Queensbatch mill, it was worked by the Edwardses, tenants of W. F. Beddoes c. 1910. (fn. 596) The mill ceased working c. 1949. (fn. 597)
Market and fairs.
In 1214 the Crown advertised a Wednesday market and a one-day August fair in Stretton, and in 1252 a Tuesday market and a four-day fair 2-5 May. (fn. 598) In 1337 the earl of Arundel obtained a Thursday market and a threeday fair 13-15 September for his manor of Stretton, (fn. 599) but in the event no market seems to have been established, or else it fell into disuse. (fn. 600) The May and September fairs, however, evidently continued: in 1591 the lord leased their tolls for lives, and the lease was still in effect in 1626-7. (fn. 601)
In 1616, despite opposition from the borough of Bishop's Castle, Bonham Norton, owner of a considerable estate in and around the town, (fn. 602) was granted a Thursday market in Church Stretton and a court of pie powder. (fn. 603) The market became notable for corn and provisions. (fn. 604) A market house was built, (fn. 605) and the Nortons owned the market until Sir George Norton began to sell off his Shropshire estates. (fn. 606) In 1715 Edward and Sarah Appleyard bought it, and in 1721 it passed from them to Thomas Lutwyche of Lutwyche (in Rushbury). William Cheney Hart, of Hope Bowdler, bought it from the Lutwyche estate in 1787, and after his death (1819) it was evidently sold out of Chancery, probably to one Robinson c. 1830. (fn. 607)
The market was described as 'small' in 1803, (fn. 608) and in 1836 market and market house were bought from the Bensons of Lutwyche by trustees for the county's Southern parliamentary division; their purpose was to abolish the market tolls and to build a town hall (convenient also as a polling place for the division) on the site of the market house. The new building, designed in a 17th-century style by Edward Haycock, was put up in 1838-9. (fn. 609) About 1890 foodstuffs (including butcher's meat, fish, and poultry), haberdashery, clothing, and earthenware were sold from boards and trestles beneath the town hall and open-air standings around it; stallage produced about £30 a year but the town hall trustees charged no tolls. (fn. 610) The town hall became unsafe and was demolished in 1963, but an open-air market continued in the Square. (fn. 611)
The lord of the manor's May and September fairs were held on 14 May and 25 September from 1752-3, (fn. 612) and by 1803 two other fairs had been added 'by custom', on the third Thursday in March and the last Thursday in November. By 1888 fairs on the second Thursday in January and on 3 July had been added. (fn. 613) Thirty ewes were bought at Stretton for Willey farm in September 1748, (fn. 614) and in 1803 the September fair was said to be a 'very established mart' for sheep, as was the May fair for cows and calves. (fn. 615) The September fair remained important for store-sheep sales in the early 20th century, (fn. 616) and colts too were sold then. Stretton horse fairs remained important in the early 20th century, but in the mid 20th century the livestock fairs dwindled away, though sheep sales were long held in the Lion field, Church Stretton, and a field in Little Stretton. (fn. 617)
Manufactures and trade.
In 1626 the lord of Stretton's bailiff was paid £5 'to search for coals within this lordship', (fn. 618) and the name Colliersley (on the Woolstaston boundary) (fn. 619) may suggest a location for his efforts. Field names (fn. 620) and an abandoned shaft (date unknown) north of Botvyle suggest the site of explorations in Lydley and Cardington manor where the Upper Coal Measures' Coed-yr-Allt beds have been found at c. 21 m. (fn. 621) in Coalpit piece. (fn. 622) At the south end of the parish, in Minton manor, there were 'old trial shafts' in White Birches wood, which may have been sunk for coal in ignorance of local geology. (fn. 623)
In 1901 the Ordnance Survey plotted twentyodd quarries in the parish, not all that there were. Most were small and probably then disused. The quarry near the way out of Minton village to the Long Mynd common is one of those whose purpose is no longer obvious. About a third of the quarries were near the main settlements, and some of them evidently provided rubble for nearby buildings, such as the diorite dug for the old Tiger Hall, Church Stretton, or the stone for All Stretton church (opened 1902). A string of quarries runs south from Dudgeley House (north of All Stretton) to the entrance to Carding Mill valley (in Church Stretton) and coincides with the outcrop of Buxton Rock that bore the name of the quarry in All Stretton. Half of the quarries near the main settlements were near Church Stretton. (fn. 626) There was, however, no large source of stone suitable for modern building, and the railway station (opened 1852) was built of Soudley sandstone. (fn. 627)
Some of the remoter quarries were evidently sources of limestone to be burnt for agricultural lime: such presumably was Botvyle quarry in the Aymestry limestone, and there seem to have been similar smaller workings three fields to the south. (fn. 628) Other quarries away from the settlements yielded road stone, for example the diggings into the Helmeth Grits at the eastern end of Hazler Road and the south-western end of Ragleth hill. Road metal was presumably also got, probably for local use only, from a dozen or so gravel pits, mainly around Ragleth and Hazler hills and in the north-eastern corner of the parish; probably other pits survived as ponds. (fn. 629)
In the 1890s road metal was got from a quarry west of the brickworks at Brockhurst. A little farther south one of the largest gravel pits in the parish apparently obliterated an early brickworks, (fn. 630) and at some time one of the old coalpit fields north of Botvyle is said to have been worked as a brickyard. (fn. 631) Claypits presumably yielded marl or brick clay, (fn. 632) but brickmaking was probably intermittent, fluctuating with a demand that was purely local: the three main brickyards were very close to the railway line but not connected to it. Near Dagers mill a field called Brick yard in 1838 was again part of a 4½-a. brickyard, occupied by Church Stretton Brick & Tile Co., c. 1910. (fn. 633) Bricks were being made at Minton in 1856 and near Little Stretton by 1879 and still in 1885; (fn. 634) those enterprises (latterly Marshbrook Brick Works) probably worked the same site, a large claypit in a field east of Minton known in 1838 as Quarry leasow. (fn. 635) The Church Stretton Terra Cotta Works established by 1891 was presumably that near Brockhurst, (fn. 636) but it had probably closed by 1900.
Malting was established in Stretton by 1587 when a malthouse was built near Lake Lane's corner with the Shrewsbury road. (fn. 637) In 1621, when Shrewsbury corporation may have been trying to control the grain market, that town's great brewer William Rowley sent his malt mill to Stretton 'upon wains'. (fn. 638) Malting continued, though, as a small-scale subsidiary occupation, probably under-recorded: William Corfield (d. 1751) and his son Richard (fl. 1762) were maltsters. (fn. 639) In the mid and later 19th century some farmers and publicans were maltsters, and in the 1850s John Lewis combined malting with plumbing, painting, and glazing. In the early and mid 19th century there were often half a dozen or more maltsters in the town and as many more in the rest of the parish. Soon after 1851 Robert McCartney, a travelling tea dealer in Stretton, became a hop merchant and maltster. By 1900 there was still a farmer-maltster in Little Stretton, but Robert McCartney & Sons (also hop and seed merchants), (fn. 640) who built the large malthouse, warehouse, and shop in Station Road c. 1904, (fn. 641) ran Stretton's only big 20th-century malting business until it closed c. 1940. (fn. 642)
There were fulling mills in Stretton in the late 17th century, (fn. 643) and in the early 18th century local textile trades included weaving and tailoring; the leather trades comprised tanning, shoemaking, and gloving; and there were blacksmiths, carpenters, and coopers. (fn. 644)
Weaving was locally established by 1570 when Thomas Hayles, a Little Stretton weaver, bought land in Cardington. (fn. 645) In 1631 William Pinches of All Stretton left his looms to his cousin William Corfield, (fn. 646) and weaving still continued in the early 19th century, (fn. 647) when the town's 'poor' were said to be 'chiefly employed in making a coarse linen cloth for packing hops and wool'. (fn. 648) By then the rebuilding of Brooks corn mill (c. 1812) (fn. 649) allowed the transfer of wool carding from Dagers mill in All Stretton to the new building, which became known as the Carding Mill. (fn. 650) The first tenant Ashworth Pilkington ('Pilkington & Co.') soon left, so that the owner, G. W. Marsh, rector of Hope Bowdler, had to work the mill for a time on his own account. The mill stimulated domestic spinning within the pull of the town's market and may explain the existence of a busy wool fair in the early 19th century. George Corfield bought the mill c. 1824, enlarged it, and took on more hands, but his business failed at his death in 1836. His successor, Evans, made coarse flannels for two or three years but then died, leaving a widow who soon became insolvent. Edward Wilding, wool manufacturer, was probably the employer of 12 hands in 1841. About 1850 Duppa, Banks & Co. took a lease of the mill and engaged hands for flannel and cloth manufacture: 19 (9 of them from the Welsh flannel centre of Newtown) were employed in 1851, but never so many thereafter. The firm gave up, and in 1854 the tenancy was acquired by James Williams, Corfield's former manager. Williams died in 1866 and until c. 1900 his son Richard continued to manufacture tweed cloth, blankets, rugs, and woollen yarn in a small way, offering farmers an exchange of cloth for wool. In the mid 1920s Harry Page, in Churchway, began to work a hand loom to revive the former renown of Church Stretton homespun, though producing a lighter cloth than the old Carding Mill tweed. He was still at work in 1937. (fn. 651)
The leather trades were represented by such occupations as currier, skinner, saddler, and harness maker in the 1840s; there was a dealer in skins in All Stretton in 1841. (fn. 652) In 1851 the Beddoes family, farmers and fellmongers, had a skinner's yard near the town crossroads, but by 1861 they had moved their business out of the town. (fn. 653) In 1838 John Bridgman owned a tanyard in Little Stretton adjoining his mill building on Ashes brook; William Simpson was running the yard by 1851 and did so until the 1870s. (fn. 654)
As manufactures dwindled the range of shops and services expanded to serve the needs of a town increasingly intent on attracting visitors and new residents. Between 1841 and 1895 (fn. 655) trades such as brickmaker, cooper, ropemaker, sawyer, and tanner ceased, and only one wheelwright remained (at Little Stretton). Blacksmiths, saddlers, shoemakers, and tailors survived from the old crafts by adapting to the town's new role alongside new businesses and shops serving middle-class needs, from hairdressing to laundry, livery and jobmastering, and a wider range of retailing, including dealing in wines and provisions. To the medical profession, represented in Stretton since the earlier 18th century, (fn. 656) were added bankers and solicitors. The town's 20th-century growth, though intermittent, also favoured the building trade. (fn. 657)
Three quarters of the 20th century were to pass before plans to bring industry to the town again bore fruit. In 1976-7 the railway station yard became an industrial estate (fn. 658) and the land between the railway line and the Shrewsbury- Ludlow road was brought into use. R. A. Swain, haulage contractor by the early 1960s, had premises there, but the business outgrew them, and in the mid 1980s Swains of Stretton Ltd., international hauliers, moved to Stafford Park, Telford. (fn. 659) Light industry was encouraged and in the 1990s the industrial area was expanded south with speculative factories being erected on the Mynd industrial estate by English Partnerships. The old Stretton Laundry site, further south on the main road, also attracted light industry. There was little industry in the villages, though after the Second World War Wetcowood Ltd. established a saw mill south of Little Stretton village; after the mill closed the site ceased to be industrial: a chicken hatchery was established there for a time, but the area was developed as housing in the earlier 1960s. (fn. 660)
The purity of Long Mynd spring water was proclaimed as Stretton aspired to become a health resort and residential area, and springs were first exploited in 1881 when Church Stretton Aerated Water Co. opened in part of the Carding Mill, which had been advertised in 1870 as suitable for a hydropathic establishment or brewery. Two years later Stretton Hills Mineral Water Co. opened a factory at Cwm Dale in Shrewsbury Road. The Carding Mill firm had ceased by 1906. The Shrewsbury Road factory, however, continued: nicknamed the 'Pop Works', it was later taken over by Jewsbury & Brown. Schweppes owned the factory in the 1950s but used it merely as a distribution centre. It was later bought by Wells Drinks, of Tenbury Wells, who bottle the water, renowned for its purity and low mineral content, for sale throughout the country. (fn. 661) Proposals (eventually fruitless) to develop a spa in the town c. 1908 had depended on the piping of water from a spring at Wentnor on the western side of the Long Mynd. (fn. 662)
By 1841 a dozen people of independent means were living in the town, (fn. 663) forerunners both of those who, in the later 19th century, sought recreation and health in Stretton (fn. 664) and also of those who, at a later period, went to live there in retirement. From the mid 19th century private middle-class lunatic asylums catered for a particular type of the former; in the later 20th century the establishment of homes for old people and others provided retreats which paralleled the independent retirement of many householders on the new, predominantly bungalow, estates built mainly around the town. (fn. 665) Both developments contributed to the growth of the town and its peculiar economy.
Dr. S. G. Bakewell, a Staffordshire man, established two lunatic asylums in the parish in the 1850s. In 1851 the Grove, All Stretton, was licensed for the reception of 10 female patients (fn. 666) and later for 12 (1855) and 14 (1856); after Bakewell's death in 1865 his widow Harriet ran the asylum, whose licensed number was increased to 25 in 1868 and 45 in 1871. (fn. 667) Her niece married Dr. J. R. McLintock (also medical officer of Stretton House asylum until his death in 1883), and their family (eventually spelling their name McClintock) owned and ran the Grove for a hundred years until it closed and was demolished in 1969. (fn. 668) Bakewell's other asylum, established in 1854, was the Retreat, or Stretton House asylum, for men; built where the Talbot inn had stood, at the south end of the town, it was first licensed for 16 patients, later for 18 (1856). (fn. 669) On Bakewell's death William Hyslop bought it, and in 1868 it was licensed for 28 patients. Hyslop enlarged and reconstructed it and added new 'gothic' buildings (designed by Thomas Tisdale) in 1869, thus allowing the reception of 40. Patients were classified socially as well as clinically: in addition to cricket, gardening, billiards, and music the richer patients could ride or enjoy 'carriage exercise'. The grounds, like those of the Bakewells' earlier establishments in Staffordshire, had always been spacious, and the asylum was supplied from its garden and model farm and in the mid 1930s continued to provide 'the comforts of a first-class home'. (fn. 670) It closed, evidently in 1948 when it was divided into flats. (fn. 671)
Stretton's reputation as a health resort in a quiet corner of England and its Edwardian inheritance of large houses attracted convalescent and other homes and, particularly during the world wars, hospitals. In the First World War Church Stretton had housed Belgian refugees, (fn. 672) and Essex House had been a V.A.D. hospital. (fn. 673) In the 1930s, and perhaps for longer, the Odd Fellows Friendly Society had Holmwood as a convalescent home. (fn. 674) On the outbreak of the Second World War St. Dunstan's, the charity for rehabilitating men and women blinded on war service, was evacuated to the town from the south coast and remained until 1946. Hotels and other premises were requisitioned, a hospital was established in Tiger Hall, and workshop huts were built in the town and in the grounds of the Longmynd Hotel and Brockhurst. Staff and V.A.D. houses too were needed, and the town 'had a marvellous talent for producing houses and sites'. (fn. 675) Later the county council used Holmwood as an old people's home (fn. 676) and (in 1977) built May Fair House, with 50 places for old people. (fn. 677) In the 1980s, when the view prevailed that private and voluntary homes could offer more choice, (fn. 678) seven registered homes in the Strettons afforded 97 places, 9 of them (in Arden House, an Edwardian villa) for mentally ill people; in Shropshire only Shrewsbury had more. (fn. 679) Private residential homes continued to increase (c. 1990 Sandford House hotel became a residential nursing home), (fn. 680) and the county council converted Holmwood to a children's home c. 1987 and closed May Fair House in the 1990s. (fn. 681)
The railway's arrival in 1852 (fn. 682) gave Shropshire's smallest market town (fn. 683) the opportunity to develop into the county's principal resort by advertising the beauty of its scenery. By 1860 the railway company was alerting passengers to the attractions of a country already accessible by half a dozen well conceived excursions from the town and said to be 'far superior' to that which had given Malvern 'deserved celebrity'. (fn. 684)
The Hotel superseded the Crown in 1865, (fn. 685) but change came slowly. G. R. Windsor's arrival in the town gave something of an impetus. In 1879 Windsor, by then postmaster, (fn. 686) was probably behind a curious advertisement which proclaimed that Stretton's climatic 'salubrity' and atmospheric 'purity' were demonstrated by the annual returns of its lunatic asylums (showing high percentages of recoveries) and by the churchyard gravestones recording the inhabitants' 'patriarchal' ages. Nevertheless the claim that Stretton was 'becoming more and more the resort of the denizens of . . . the large English Towns' seems to have been wishful thinking: the advertisement admitted that there were few places to stay apart from the modern Hotel and 'wayside-like Inns', that capital and enterprise were much wanted to supply the deficit of 'suitable up-putting', and that the town's destiny as 'a popular Summer Retreat' still lay in the future. (fn. 687)
In 1881 Windsor, who was also printer, stationer, and bookseller, launched a newspaper and Visitors' List intended for the Stretton 'season', (fn. 688) but it did not appear again. In 1885 he published Laura Heathjohn, (fn. 689) a 'sensational local descriptive novel'. (fn. 690) It was not the first such that had appeared, for the area had an enduring appeal to artistic and literary people in the later 19th and earlier 20th century. From c. 1862 to 1883 the artist John Halphed Smith (1830-96) lived in All Stretton, (fn. 691) where his wife had inherited property including a cottage then or later called Cloverley; it was occupied by her sister Sarah Smith, the writer 'Hesba Stretton', who spent holidays there until late in life; All Stretton apparently provides the background of her stories Fern's Hollow (1864) and The Children of Cloverley (1865). (fn. 692) In 1869 Henry Kingsley's novel Stretton appeared, (fn. 693) the work of a writer with a talent for landscape description. (fn. 694) Rosa Mackenzie Kettle's 1882 novel The CardingMill Valley was subtitled A Romance of the Shropshire Highlands, (fn. 695) using a phrase that was later to be hard worked in publicity for the area. (fn. 696) The Kailyard writer 'Ian Maclaren' (fn. 697) is said to have written his most popular book, Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush (1894), while staying at the Tan House, Little Stretton; (fn. 698) and Little Stretton was the scene of a story ('At the Green Dragon') in Beatrice Harraden's In Varying Moods (1894). (fn. 699) Mary Webb spent her honeymoon in Little Stretton in 1912, and much of the atmosphere of her first novel, The Golden Arrow (1916), was contributed by the landscape of the Long Mynd, disguised, inappropriately, as 'Wilderhope'. (fn. 700)
In 1885, the year that his novel appeared, G. R. Windsor brought out A Handbook to the Capabilities, Attractions, Beauties, and Scenery of Church Stretton. (fn. 701) Not the first local guide, (fn. 702) it was certainly the most literary, but between the verses and local stories the Handbook makes it clear that few houses had yet been built specially for letting. Most accommodation apart from that in the inns and the Hotel was provided by householders letting their best rooms during the season; farmhouses let rooms outside the town and in All Stretton and Little Stretton villages. Such lodgings varied greatly in size and could amount to apartments for families or large parties. Visitors' facilities were becoming available: David Hyslop's posting establishment with horses and conveyances of all sorts for hire; Mrs. James's temperance refreshment rooms, where cyclists were 'specially attended to'; and in Carding Mill valley, 'the most Romantic Valley of the Long Mynd', tea gardens and refreshment rooms. (fn. 703)
Boarding houses apparently began to trade in the 1890s, though Mrs. H. Salt's Ashlett House in High Street appears to have been the only purpose-built one; (fn. 704) others, like the Central Boarding House and Family Hotel on the opposite side of High Street, were adapted buildings. (fn. 705) Not for about a decade did directories begin to list boarding houses: there were six in 1905 and nine (out of thirteen in the county) in 1909. By 1909 apartments were being let by 45 householders (mainly in the town), the same number as in Shrewsbury, (fn. 706) a town twelve times more populous than the three Strettons. (fn. 707) Numbers listed remained at that level until the First World War but apparently declined then. (fn. 708)
From 1898 numbers of seasonal visitors can be estimated from the visitors' lists in the new Advertiser. (fn. 709) At the August bank holiday that year probably c. 120 people arrived: 34 (including the Hon. Charles Lawrance and Sir John Ramsden) at the Hotel, 10 each at the Buck's Head and Ashlett House, 6 at the Priory, and 5 at the Central Hotel and Boarding House. (fn. 710) Stretton's season was naturally mainly a summer one, with the emphasis on outdoor pursuits. Ashlett House, however, offered special terms for the winter months, (fn. 711) and there were 29 visitors in Stretton at the end of December 1898, some of whom had stayed longish periods. (fn. 712) Such figures for summer and winter visitors may not be wide of the mark for the years before the First World War. Titled people began to figure in the lists before 1900 and good numbers of visitors seem to have been attracted from the west midlands, Merseyside, and the north: in 1900 there were c. 175 visitors at the beginning of August and c. 10 a fortnight before Christmas; (fn. 713) in 1908 the 23 after Christmas included Sir Charles and Lady Ottley and Lady Banks, and the large numbers recorded that August (c. 128 in the middle of the month) included the dean of Windsor and the Misses Eliot, who spent the whole month at the Longmynd Hotel. Stretton seems to have been favoured by the senior clergy: Canon Holmes was at the Longmynd at the same time as Dean Eliot, and in June Bishop Gibson of Gloucester and his wife had been there. (fn. 714)
During its Edwardian heyday Church Stretton prospered. By 1903 it had been puffed 'in a Monte Carlo journal', and in 1905 it was advertised in the society weekly Truth as 'the Highlands of England', recommended as a winter resort by the medical profession. In 1908 Church Stretton Ltd. was planning to make a spa. The firm's plans were too ambitious to be realized, (fn. 715) but the town grasped the need to plan attractions and to advertise itself. On 8-10 July 1913, to publicize 'the Highlands of England' and attract visitors, (fn. 716) an ambitious historical pageant was staged in the natural amphitheatre formed by the slope between Cunnery Road and the Rectory wood: long remembered locally, it dramatized episodes of local history from the capture of Caratacus to the visit of James II. (fn. 717) Church Stretton Advancement Association, formed as an 'advertising committee' in 1903, published a guide in which the 'Highlands' phrase was well used. (fn. 718) The local press warned the Association to attend to signposting, (fn. 719) and by December 1914 £53 (subscribed) had been spent on newspaper and railway advertising and on putting up signposts; results, it was claimed, would have been better but for the war, (fn. 720) which brought the Association to an end. (fn. 721)
From the 1890s 'day excursionists' formed an important part of Stretton's custom. At the 1898 August bank holiday nearly 700 arrived by rail; the return fare from Shrewsbury was 1s. (fn. 722) On 4 August 1913 excursions from the Shrewsbury and Wellington districts and also from Birkenhead and Liverpool brought in c. 800 whose day on the hills and in the vales brought no casualties. (fn. 723) Early next year the new station, with a better platform and passenger accommodation, was completed in time for the Whit holiday, (fn. 724) but days in June and August, bringing in c. 500, were perhaps not quite up to expectation. (fn. 725)
After the war Carding Mill valley, long felt to be romantic and by then free of industry (a 'chalet' refreshment pavilion was built next to the mill in 1920), (fn. 726) increasingly became the principal attraction for day trippers: in 1918, despite food controls, the influx of Whitsun visitors was 'quite on a par with old times' and on the Monday the valley was well patronized. People then came in by brake, (fn. 727) but by 1926 it was cars, buses, and charabancs that brought them to the valley. A 'tremendous rush' of visitors that August, when the valley was the centre of attraction, packed the town streets with cars, though many also came by charabanc. (fn. 728) Next Easter the charabancs were less in evidence, but there were more smaller cars than before: 'hundreds', their occupants intent on picnicking in the valley. By August bank holiday 1927 the valley was 'simply one mass' of cars 'of all descriptions', the hills scattered with trippers 'dressed in various colours'; children paddled and bathed while 'their elders were content to lounge on the banks'. (fn. 729) In 1937 one motorist who regularly visited the valley wrote to protest that for weeks past it had been spoilt by 'hordes of holiday makers from certain parts of the Midlands who with their motor coaches and barrels of beer gave the valley the appearance of a fair ground'. He suggested supervision or a nominal charge. (fn. 730) By Easter 1938 the scene 'had to be seen to be believed': thousands in the valley and climbing the hills, both sides of the valley road parked up from the valley entrance as far as the swimming pool, and the town full of parked cars too. (fn. 731) By then the spectacle provided by the gliding club and visits by the aviator Amy Johnson were added to natural attractions, and in July the U.D.C. was planning to charge for car parking in the valley; the lord of the manor was asked to withdraw his request for a share of profits as the council wished only to recoup the cost of cleaning up the valley after the trippers had gone. (fn. 732) One of those who disliked Carding Mill valley's 'commercialization' in the late 1930s was the children's writer Malcolm Saville, who centred his Shropshire stories mainly on the remoter country farther south, around Marshbrook, Minton, and Hamperley. Concentration of the trippers in the valley was nevertheless some consolation for those who sought unfrequented countryside. (fn. 733)
Thus in the 1920s and 1930s the town, the Long Mynd, and Carding Mill valley acquired a role that lasted the rest of the 20th century as cars brought bank holiday and summer weekend crowds. (fn. 734) Day or weekend trippers did not, however, monopolize Stretton. The Advancement Association, revived 1922-9, resumed its advertising work, (fn. 735) and the hotel and other residential trade continued, though boarding and apartment houses were perhaps gradually transmuted into private hotels and guest houses. In 1925 a public meeting was told that 'It was better to get people to come to Stretton for months at a time than just for a day. Everyone in Stretton wanted that class of visitor, especially hotels, boarding houses, and apartment houses'. One of the meeting's intentions was to improve the golf links, 'one of the greatest assets of the place' (fn. 736) for that kind of visitor. At a meeting of the U.D.C. a month later it was claimed that 'to expect visitors to come to a place where there were no attractions' was a short-sighted policy and that not everyone played golf. (fn. 737) In fact the town did its best to provide 'attractions' for a wide range of visitors, both resident and day visitors, always aware that it was competing with other English 'health resorts'. (fn. 738) It hoped to keep pace with them even if it did not expect to overtake them. (fn. 739) At Easter and other times there were golf competitions. (fn. 740) The new park and recreation grounds (fn. 741) provided for bowls and tennis (eventually open tournaments were played) on grass and hard courts, (fn. 742) and from time to time there was cricket to watch. (fn. 743) Carding Mill valley and the town were often enlivened in the summer by local musical societies (fn. 744) and brass bands; (fn. 745) the occasional entertainment of the bandsmen by the hotels (fn. 746) was an acknowledgment of their value to the resort. The May fair had a wide range of attractions, (fn. 747) and at Whit 1927 there was another pageant. (fn. 748) As in other resorts the clergy held open-air services at busy times like August bank holiday. (fn. 749) The resort continued to be popular with the clergy (Bishop Carr of Hereford and his wife were at the Longmynd Hotel in April 1938), (fn. 750) and the hotels catered for a middle class clientele.
White Christmases gave much scope for tobogganning and skating, and in milder winters golf and events like the five-mile paper chase of Christmas 1925 afforded 'immense sport'. Hotels and boarding houses entertained their winter guests indoors: whist, billiards, concerts and dancing (occasionally with a Shrewsbury orchestra), and perhaps fancy dress balls. At Christmas 1925 the Longmynd Hotel employed a 'novelty entertainer' from Manchester. (fn. 751) Visitors to that hotel in January 1938 came mainly from Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, and Staffordshire, (fn. 752) and it was perhaps not only in winter that Stretton's role was primarily that of a regional resort for north and midland England and perhaps parts of Wales. (fn. 753)
After the war Stretton hotels resumed business and in 1949 were patronized by some of those (including the actress Jennifer Jones) involved in David O. Selznick's film Gone to Earth (1950). (fn. 754) The fire at the Hotel in 1968 caused one of the town's two best hotels to become simply a public house, but its loss was compensated by others elsewhere in the parish. In the 1990s, besides the main hotels and inns in the Strettons, there were at least 15 other guest houses, farmhouses, or family homes advertising accommodation, in two cases self-catering. (fn. 755) Self-catering lodges and apartments were provided in the Longmynd Hotel grounds (fn. 756) too, and there were caravan and camping sites. (fn. 757) Day visitors, as always, tended to congregate in Card ing Mill valley, where the National Trust had acquired the refreshment chalet. (fn. 758) They came mostly at weekends and bank holidays, enjoying special attractions like the vintage cars and old steam vehicles paraded in August 1961. (fn. 759)
After 1102 Stretton was a manor of royal demesne and was separately represented by its reeve and six men at the eyre and similar inquiries. (fn. 760) Though said c. 1830 to owe 3s. 4d. a year to the lord of Munslow hundred, with suit and service, (fn. 761) the manor was in fact exempt from the hundred and enjoyed a court leet. That is clear from court records for 1392-3, (fn. 762) 1566-7, (fn. 763) 1634-5, (fn. 764) 1697, (fn. 765) 1721-1893, (fn. 766) 1895, 1902, and 1906; (fn. 767) in 1832 more 16th- and 17th-century rolls, and perhaps medieval ones, were apparently extant, (fn. 768) though those for 1630-95 were then said to be 'wanting'. (fn. 769)
Minton and Whittingslow were evidently subject to the jurisdiction of Stretton manor by 1086, but Minton's lord had wide powers as keeper of the Long forest and in the early 13th century he and the reeve of Stretton were important representatives of the Crown in the area. In 1233 the two men, attended by the men of the district, were formally appointed to ward and defend Stretton dale, particularly from the Welsh against whom they had already been active. (fn. 770) Minton had a court baron: a session of 1608 dealt with copyhold matters. (fn. 771)
Stretton's leet jurisdiction (fn. 772) extended over the whole parish, except for Botvyle (in Lydley and Cardington manor), (fn. 773) and over an adjoining part of Wistanstow parish: presentments were made by All Stretton, Church Stretton, Little Stretton, Minton, Whittingslow, and Womerton (or Woodhouse), the last named having been absorbed by Stretton manor some time after 1086; (fn. 774) constables were apparently appointed for those places until 1876, though appointments for Minton and Whittingslow had ceased earlier. The great or leet court was evidently held in April or May and October until 1840; thereafter it seems to have become annual, in May or June or October or November. After 1870 it was held less regularly, and the session of November 1880 was probably the last.
In 1554 the lord was granted return of writs, an administrative privilege excluding the sheriff and other Crown officials. (fn. 775)
In 1393 the 'small' court, or court baron, met every three weeks during the summer but less often in the winter. By 1567 winter meetings, though still irregular, were more frequent. In the earlier 18th century the small court met on the same days as the court leet and also at intervals between them. It was usually called the court baron and customary court and was increasingly preoccupied with the descent and conveyancing of copyhold estates. A 'purchased' court baron of 1736 and 'special' sessions of 1863 and 1872 (fn. 776) were presumably held at the instance of people with urgent business. Until 1871 there seem to have been meetings of the small court every year, though they were becoming less frequent. After 1871 sessions were increasingly rare and what were probably the court's last three meetings took place in 1895, 1902, and 1906. (fn. 777) Thereafter the steward dealt with copyhold business out of court. (fn. 778)
The court house which Bonham Norton undertook to build may well have been his market house, (fn. 779) but by the 19th century the manor courts normally met in the Buck's Head, then also called the Manor House. The inn yard, on the east side of High Street, remained the manorial pound at the end of the 19th century. (fn. 780)
In the late 18th and early 19th century young paupers were apprenticed (fn. 781) and in 1816 the vestry assigned liability to take one or more such apprentices between 100 persons. (fn. 782) That system, if adopted, seems to have been discontinued by the early 1830s. (fn. 783) In the early 19th century pauperism evidently increased towards the end of the Napoleonic wars, and expenditure on the poor increased greatly during the years 1817-20, reaching a peak of £527 in 1818. Otherwise the burden on the parish seems to have varied little from a post-war average of £370 a year. Maintenance allowances for bastard children (some 25 a year) averaged £62 a year net 1828-32. In the earlier 1830s labourers were seldom unemployed (fn. 784) and the parish poor-house in High Street (in existence 1733) (fn. 785) seems to have been little used. Applications for sick and accident relief were judged individually. (fn. 786) There was an assistant overseer but no select vestry; the vestry itself fixed the rate on the parish officers' advice (fn. 787) and examined the annual accounts. (fn. 788) Poor cottagers paid no rates. (fn. 789)
The whole area of the ancient parish was in Church Stretton poor-law union 1836-1930. (fn. 790) At first the union used the parish poor-house but in 1838 a new union workhouse to accommodate 120, designed by T. D. Duppa of Cheney Longville, was built north of Ashbrook by S. Pountney Smith. (fn. 791) Soon afterwards the parish sold the old poor-house, divided into two dwellings. (fn. 792) In the 1930s the county council used part of the former union workhouse as a children's home; before it closed in 1939 the institution had also housed mental defectives. (fn. 793)
The whole area of the ancient parish was in Church Stretton highway district 1863-94, (fn. 794) Church Stretton rural sanitary district 1872-94, and Church Stretton rural district 1894-9. In 1899 most of Church Stretton ward, (fn. 795) one of three formed in the parish in 1894, (fn. 796) became an urban district; Little Stretton and All Stretton wards, each slightly enlarged, became civil parishes. (fn. 797) In 1934 the U.D. was enlarged to include the villages of All Stretton and Little Stretton; at the same time Church Stretton R.D. was abolished and the reduced C.P.s of Little Stretton and All Stretton were transferred to Ludlow R.D. and Atcham R.D. respectively. (fn. 798) In 1967, on the abolition of Church Stretton U.D., Church Stretton C.P. absorbed Little Stretton C.P. and was included in Ludlow R.D. (fn. 799) From 1974 Church Stretton C.P. was in South Shropshire district, All Stretton C.P. in the borough of Shrewsbury and Atcham. (fn. 800)
U.D.C. meetings were at first in the town hall. (fn. 801) When a new depot was completed in Beaumont Road offices were provided there in 1912 to replace rented ones in High Street. (fn. 802) From c. 1920 U.D.C. meetings were held at the council offices. (fn. 803) The U.D.C.'s first clerk (1899- 1932) was Samuel M. Morris (kt. 1920). (fn. 804) A. E. D. de S. Zrinyi, rate collector 1899-1915, (fn. 805) was also bailiff of the manor court; (fn. 806) he was succeeded as rate collector by his son. (fn. 807)
In 1856 promoters of the Church Stretton Water Co. secured the goodwill of the rector, H. O. Wilson, and of C. O. Childe-Pemberton for a scheme to bring water to the town from a reservoir on Town brook above the rectory. (fn. 808) By 1870 the water supplied was good, (fn. 809) comparable to 'the best upland waters', and distributed by gravity from the Long Mynd to the whole town. (fn. 810) Little Stretton and All Stretton were less efficiently supplied by other companies, formed in 1865 and 1870 respectively: in 1894 the All Stretton company's supply was little more than nominal. Some improvements in reservoir storage were made, (fn. 811) but in 1899 Church Stretton Waterworks Co. was incorporated to build waterworks and improve the parish's supply. A reservoir was built in New Pool Hollow and mains ran down Carding Mill valley to the town and to All Stretton and Little Stretton. (fn. 812) The undertaking was acquired by the U.D.C. in 1912. (fn. 813) The town and both villages were still so supplied in 1946, water being taken from Town brook and a stream at All Stretton; in 1953 the All Stretton company's undertaking, including a small service reservoir, was acquired by the U.D.C., which remained the authorized supplier for the whole of the ancient parish area until 1964; by 1946, however, mains had not reached Minton village or the scattered population of All Stretton C.P. (fn. 814)
H. O. Wilson was active in promoting sewerage schemes for the town in 1865-6 and 1874. (fn. 815) In 1876 the town, some 35 a. with a population of 425, became a special drainage district (fn. 816) and a disposal scheme was carried out c. 1878-80; by February 1880 a hundred cottages and buildings in the district were connected to the main sewers and few houses were not. (fn. 817) A new sewerage scheme was carried out 1904-6. (fn. 818) A long deliberated (fn. 819) U.D.C. scheme to sewer All Stretton and Little Stretton was effected in the mid 1960s. (fn. 820)
A nursing charity for the sick poor established in 1880 gave rise in 1900 to the Church Stretton Nursing Association. (fn. 821) A child welfare centre, started by the association in 1921, was recognized by the county council in 1924. (fn. 822) The association ended in 1948 when the council became responsible for district nursing. (fn. 823)
In the 1880s a bier, probably belonging to the parish, was kept in the old lock-up at the almshouses. (fn. 824) In 1942, when the church's additional burial ground (fn. 825) was almost full, (fn. 826) the U.D.C. opened a cemetery near Brockhurst. (fn. 827)
A gas works was built at World's End c. 1860. (fn. 828) By 1867 parish gas-lighting inspectors (fn. 829) had arranged for the town to be lit, (fn. 830) and in or shortly before 1885 mains were laid to All Stretton. (fn. 831) The works was owned privately or by limited companies until nationalization in 1949. (fn. 832) From c. 1904 electricity was supplied from a works at Crossways; generating there ceased in the mid 1930s, a few years after the liquidation of the local company. (fn. 833)
John Broome of the Talbot inn was postmaster in 1828 (fn. 834) and was succeeded as innkeeper and postmaster by the Haverkams. (fn. 835) G. R. Windsor, bookseller, stationer, and local writer, was postmaster from the 1870s to 1892 and kept the post office in Shrewsbury Road, opposite the Hotel; he was succeeded by the retired schoolmaster Samuel Darlington. (fn. 836) A new post office was later built in Sandford Avenue. (fn. 837)
On the formation of the county constabulary in 1840 (fn. 838) the superintendent in charge of 'E' division and a constable were stationed at Church Stretton. (fn. 839) A police station, comprising lock-up and superintendent's house, was built north of the town in Shrewsbury Road in 1846- 7; (fn. 840) the new lock-up replaced one built on the almshouse property twenty years before. (fn. 841)
A volunteer fire brigade was established in 1881, the engine being kept at David Hyslop's posting stables in Brook Street. (fn. 842) The brigade was taken over and re-formed by the U.D.C. in 1901, (fn. 843) and the council depot built in Beaumont Road in 1911 included accommodation for the engine. (fn. 844) In 1964 the county council opened a new fire station in Essex Road. (fn. 845)
Save for two short periods (1229-32 and 1327- 30, in neither of which are any vacancies known to have occurred) the rectory was in the Crown's patronage until 1336, though on two occasions the Crown's presentee was evidently not instituted. (fn. 848) Henry III granted the advowson in fee, with the manor, to Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, in 1229 and resumed it in 1232. (fn. 849) Edmund FitzAlan, earl of Arundel, who had a life interest in the manor from 1310, presented in 1316 (fn. 850) and 1321. (fn. 851) In 1327, after Arundel's execution and forfeiture, the Crown presented (fn. 852) and then granted the advowson for life, with the manor, to Roger de Mortimer, created earl of March in 1328. (fn. 853) In 1330 March was granted the advowson in fee and licensed to alienate it to the chaplains of his chantry in Leintwardine church, (fn. 854) but later that year he forfeited his estates to the Crown. (fn. 855)
In 1336 Edward III granted the advowson in fee to Richard FitzAlan, earl of Arundel, (fn. 856) and it then descended with the manor until c. 1800. (fn. 857) The earls conveyed turns to others in the earlier 16th century, the Crown apparently presented by lapse c. 1576, and Sir Rowland Hayward may have granted a turn soon after that. (fn. 858) About 1800 Thomas Thynne, marquess of Bath, sold the advowson to Thomas Coleman, of Leominster (Herefs.), (fn. 859) who presented his son T. B. Coleman in 1807 and later conveyed the advowson to him. T. B. Coleman's representatives presented in 1818 and evidently sold the advowson before 1834 to Coleman's successor as rector, R. N. Pemberton, whose trustees presented in 1849. That year the patronage was exercised again, by Pemberton's devisee C. O. ChildePemberton of Millichope, who remained patron until his death in 1883. (fn. 860) In 1886 the advowson was conveyed in trust, (fn. 861) evidently to the Church Patronage Trust, (fn. 862) patron in 1990. (fn. 863)
In 1255 and 1292 the rectory was said to be worth £26 13s. 4d. a year, (fn. 864) though in 1291 the annual value was given as £15. (fn. 865) The living was valued at £16 a year in 1535: £14 13s. 4d. from tithes, £1 6s. 8d. from glebe. (fn. 866) In the later 16th century the rector possessed an extensive glebe, over 55 a. including closes around the parsonage and acres, lands, and butts in Nashbrook field; then, and in 1699, he also owned all the tithes of the parish and took housebote, firebote, and hedgebote in the lord's wood and common. By 1699 the glebe was said to amount to over 76 a., (fn. 867) and in 1839 it amounted to some 67 a. The tithes were commuted to £505 in 1839, (fn. 868) and in 1885 the living was said to be worth £580 a year gross, when the 66 a. of glebe was worth £145. (fn. 869) By 1911 the tithe rent charges were worth only £353 7s. 6d. (fn. 870) and the net value of the benefice little more. (fn. 871) The rectory house and its grounds are discussed below.
In the 1220s the living was held by two prominent royal officials. Ralph de Neville, rector 1214-22 and later bishop of Chichester, was keeper of the great seal from 1218 and chancellor 1226-44. (fn. 872) Walter of Brackley, rector 1222-7, was joint keeper of the Wardrobe 1222-32. (fn. 873) Three mid 13th-century rectors were foreigners, (fn. 874) perhaps appointed by Savoyard influence; (fn. 875) the first, Guillaume de Pinu presented in 1237, was archdeacon of Vézelay (Yonne). (fn. 876) Such rectors were absentees and from 1227 they had 25 marks a year from the living while a vicar had been beneficed with the rest. (fn. 877) Even the vicarage, however, seems occasionally to have been conferred on men unlikely to have resided: in 1253 the vicar, chaplain to the royal chancellor, was induced by promised compensation of £20 a year to resign in favour of a nephew of the prior of le Mas. (fn. 878) The vicarage's existence, however, extenuated the nomination of rectors unqualified for cure of souls. In 1277 the rector was only sixteen years old and not yet a subdeacon; he was a pupil of one Philip Walsh who obtained the rectory later that year, fraudulently it was said in 1283 when he himself was neither priest nor resident. The bishop then claimed that a vicar could not be appointed and in 1285 he abolished the vicarage. Walsh, protected by royal service, remained rector until 1292 (fn. 879) or later.
In the 14th century incumbencies, with perhaps two exceptions, (fn. 880) were apparently short and frequently ended by an exchange of livings. William of Hartshill, not yet a subdeacon, was presented by the Crown in 1327 and was an absentee. (fn. 881) In 1331 he exchanged with a namesake, (fn. 882) presumably a relative. The second William of Hartshill, a royal clerk, twice considered an exchange (fn. 883) before effecting one with another royal clerk, John de Watenhull, in 1335. (fn. 884) Watenhull was still rector in 1347. (fn. 885) John Sprott, rector in 1349-50 and until his death in 1358, presented by the earl of Arundel, was a feoffee of the earl's estates. (fn. 886) Dr. Nicholas de Chaddesden, rector 1358-61 and only in minor orders when presented, later enjoyed a distinguished legal career. (fn. 887) Of Chaddesden's seven recorded 14th-century successors, four exchanged the rectory for other livings. (fn. 888) The rector in 1366 was a pluralist. (fn. 889)
Only ten rectors' names are known for the 15th and 16th centuries (fn. 890) and incumbencies, especially perhaps those of local men, may have been longer than in the 14th century. Dr. William Corfe, rector 1405-17, was provost of Oriel College, Oxford, 1415-17 and, as one of the English delegation at the council of Constance from 1414, participated in Hus's trial. (fn. 891) Thomas Oswestry was rector 1417-39 (fn. 892) and William Higgins, probably one of the All Stretton family, (fn. 893) was rector 1465-1514. (fn. 894) Dr. Edward Higgins, rector 1514-15, (fn. 895) was one of only four or five known graduate rectors (fn. 896) during the period. Of the other graduates Richard Norys, 1454-9, (fn. 897) and Master David (or William) Holywell, 1459- 65, (fn. 898) had short incumbencies but George Dycher, (fn. 899) was rector 1515-48. (fn. 900) William Harris, presented c. 1576 and still rector in 1609, had married the widowed mother of a Church Stretton yeoman. (fn. 901) In 1595 he secured the suppression of the church ale, until then celebrated after evening prayer on Easter Day at the rector's expense: he agreed to pay 20s. a year for a school and schoolmaster, the ale to be revived if he defaulted. (fn. 902)
In the Middle Ages there was a service of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the south transept. It was apparently endowed with lands at Hodghurst from the mid 13th century and in 1512 the wardens acquired small properties in All Stretton and at Dudgeley. Sir Thomas Leighton (d. 1519) left 8 marks a year for masses to be said before Our Lady. (fn. 903) At Womerton there was a chapel dedicated to St. Peter. The manorial officers were putting it to secular uses by the early 1560s, and by 1622 it was said to be 'wholly defaced', most of its stones carried off; (fn. 904) its last remains were carted off in the early 19th century to build a garden wall at Womerton Farm. (fn. 905) At the opposite end of the parish Minton chapel, for which a dedication to St. Thecla has been suggested, (fn. 906) stood next to the village green; in 1562 the inhabitants wished to restore it for worship and keep the chalice and bell, (fn. 907) but it too disappeared. Thus from the 17th century to the 20th the parish church alone served the whole of the very extensive parish.
Anthony Hawkes, presented in 1621, conformed as a presbyterian and was still rector in 1647. He was an Oxford graduate, (fn. 908) and all but one (fn. 909) of his known (fn. 910) successors until 1974 were university men, (fn. 911) 12 of Oxford, (fn. 912) 6 of Cambridge. (fn. 913)
John Mainwaring, rector 1749-1807, was fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, 1748-88 and Lady Margaret professor of divinity 1788- 1807. (fn. 914) He published several Cambridge sermons but is best remembered as Handel's first biographer. (fn. 915) His successors, T. B. Coleman 1807-18, who was also lord of the manor, R. N. Pemberton 1818-48, H. O. Wilson 1849-79, and Charles Noel-Hill 1879-1904, lived in gentlemanly style, and Coleman and Pemberton were patrons of the living. Under Pemberton's will his kinsman C. A. Salusbury was presented in 1849, but he died within the year. For half a century, from the 1820s to the 1870s, successive rectors employed Preston Nunn as their curate. (fn. 916) Wilson and Noel-Hill were exceptionally energetic incumbents.
Twentieth-century incumbencies were shorter, averaging little over eight years. Dr. H. T. Dixon, 1923-37, and R. W. Morely, 1948-64, served longest. (fn. 917) Dixon was archdeacon of Ludlow 1932- 9, and H. E. Whately succeeded him both as rector (1937-47) and archdeacon (1939-47). (fn. 918)
In 1819 the vestry decided to remove the 'old gallery' (possibly in the chancel) and re-site the organ; during the 1820s the psalm singers were probably dispensed with; and in 1832 the organist was replaced by a barrel organ presented by the rector. (fn. 919) In 1839, when 440 of the 1,500 or so parishioners lived over two miles from the church, there were 500 sittings, 120 of them free; 200 more free places were then needed to accommodate all the poor. In 1851 attendance was said to average 300 at morning service, 120 in the afternoon; there was then an evening service at the workhouse in a chapel or room holding 65, where attendance averaged 53. (fn. 920) More sittings were provided by extensions to the church in 1867-8 (fn. 921) and two new chapels of ease in 1902-3. St. Michael and All Angels, All Stretton, was opened in 1902; built in stone to a design by A. E. Lloyd Oswell, it held 230. In 1903 the timber-framed All Saints', Little Stretton, was built on Mrs. A. E. Gibbon's property and at her expense to hold c. 150; (fn. 922) it was conveyed to the church in 1958. (fn. 923)
The opening of the new chapels of ease came as the culmination of Noel-Hill's energetic 25 years' incumbency and the funds for All Stretton chapel were raised largely by his exertions. (fn. 924) Besides his invigoration of local benefit clubs and charities (fn. 925) Noel-Hill had promptly organized mission services in outlying parts of the parish and district visiting. He had immediately introduced a daily service, more frequent celebrations of communion, and a surpliced choir of boys, while the church and its services were embellished with flowers and pictures, the latter arousing fears of Roman 'imagery'. (fn. 926) In 1883 a new organ was installed in a new chamber off the chancel, (fn. 927) and it was probably c. 1886 that 16th-and 17th-century Flemish glass was put in chancel windows. (fn. 928) Noel-Hill founded a ringing society in 1880, (fn. 929) and in 1890 two of the six bells of 1711 were recast, two trebles added, and the whole peal rehung. (fn. 930) Probably about the same time a chalice-in a medieval style, perhaps by Bodley-and paten were acquired and added to earlier gifts of plate by Mrs. Coleman (1818) and R. N. Pemberton (1823). (fn. 931) A chancel screen was fitted in 1898. (fn. 932)
In the 20th century the ownership of the patronage (fn. 933) produced a consistently Evangelical emphasis. In the parish church Sunday communicants averaged 34 in 1904 and 67 by 1967, an increase proportionately greater than that of the population, (fn. 934) not counting communicants in the chapels of ease. Easter communicants numbered 251 in 1905 and 276 in 1967, but Christmas communicants rose from 146 in 1904 to 346 by 1967, apparently owing to the increasing popularity of the midnight service introduced in 1946. (fn. 935) There was normally a curate, (fn. 936) and from 1973 there was a lay worker. (fn. 937)
John Mainwaring's parsonage, and residence in the Cambridge vacation, (fn. 938) was perhaps the 'decent house' recorded in the 16th and 17th centuries (fn. 939) and sketched in 1767. If so a single range, with a lower building to the east and what were probably two stacks on the south or garden side, (fn. 940) comprised two parlours, two butteries, five chambers, a kitchen, a boulting house, a malt chamber, a stable, and an ox house all under one roof; there were also a barn and a sheepcot, each of five bays. (fn. 941) How much of it survived the late 18th century is uncertain, (fn. 942) though thicker walls in the north-west part (fn. 943) may be stone or brickclad timber.
Great changes to the house and its grounds were made by Mainwaring and his successors. (fn. 944) In the 1770s Mainwaring, a friend of 'Capability' Brown, was improving part of the glebe around his house: (fn. 945) to the west part of Townbrook hollow was laid out with walks and provided with an artificial pool and small cascade overlooked by a gothick summer-house; (fn. 946) then or later an ice-house was made near the pool. (fn. 947) In the late 18th century a west end or wing of the rectory probably comprised drawing room and (to the north) dining room; there was perhaps an entrance hall in the centre of the south front. It was evidently T. B. Coleman, rector 1807-18, (fn. 948) who undertook the remodelling that shifted the main entrance to the west in order to locate the principal rooms on the south so as to command a fine prospect: the town did not intrude on the distant view of Ragleth hill and on the west there was a nearer view of the intricately folded, well planted flanks of the Long Mynd interrupted by a grassy field sloping up out of sight. Across the view, (fn. 949) c. 130 m. south of the house, a new drive was made (probably by T. B. Coleman, after his demolition of Stretton Hall) (fn. 950) to run west from a lodge in Back Lane; after turning north it swung round to the west front where a neo-classical, apparently recessed entrance, flanked by Doric columns seemingly in antis, was contrived between the projecting stacks of the late 18th-century drawing and dining rooms. The dining room was reduced to make a vestibule and a staircase was built between the west and south wings. (fn. 951) Coleman's successor R. N. Pemberton, 1818-48, (fn. 952) raised the height of the large central room on the south, probably in the earlier 1830s; (fn. 953) a passage and a service wing east and north of the staircase block were perhaps built or rebuilt by him.
The 19th-century rectors lived in gentlemanly style. Coleman was lord of the manor and patron as well as parson. His successor Pemberton bought the patronage and much land in the parish; some of his purchases adjoining the 29 a. of glebe around the parsonage had been let to him, before being sold to him in 1833, by Coleman's widow. By 1834 a high brick boundary wall secluded Pemberton's rectory, glebe, and private estate from the town. His property comprised virtually all the land between the town and the Mynd and a wide tract of hill and dale as far as the township boundary; near World's End a lodge marked the beginning of a carriage drive through Pemberton's new plantations. (fn. 954) Pemberton inherited the Millichope estate in 1832 (fn. 955) and built Millichope Park (in Munslow) where he lived from 1841. (fn. 956) In accordance with Pemberton's will his second cousin's son, C. A. Salusbury, was presented to the living in 1849. Thereby he became entitled to Pemberton's private estate in Church Stretton and Acton Scott parishes during his incumbency; but he died the same year, and his successor H. O. Wilson, 1849-79, (fn. 957) spent over £1,000 on furniture, glass, china, linen, books, (fn. 958) and cellar stock (fn. 959) which had belonged to Pemberton and Salusbury. (fn. 960) In 1853 an exchange of land with C. O. Childe-Pemberton of Millichope increased the glebe south of the parsonage by more than 9½ a. which Wilson's two predecessors had owned privately. (fn. 961) Eventually Wilson also bought property of his own in the parish (fn. 962) as did his successor Charles Noel-Hill, 1879- 1904, a grandson of the 4th Lord Berwick. (fn. 963) In 1885 Noel-Hill bought 14 a. adjoining the glebe north of the parsonage from Charles Baldwyn Childe of Kinlet; parts of that were added to the glebe before 1906 and c. 2 a. more in that year. (fn. 964) When he died in 1911 Noel-Hill owned seven houses and twelve cottages in the town with other small properties. (fn. 965)
Dr. H. T. Dixon and his successors lived in Mynd Court, Longhills Road, built c. 1905 on former glebe, (fn. 966) and Dixon let the Old Rectory to tenants until its sale c. 1935. Mynd Court was replaced as the rectory in 1981 when Norfolk Lodge, Carding Mill Valley Road, was bought. (fn. 967)
The cruciform church of ST. LAWRENCE, so called by c. 1740, (fn. 968) is built partly of uncoursed rubble and partly of ashlar. It consists of chancel, embattled and pinnacled central tower, transepts with west aisles, and a nave with south vestry in place of a former porch. The nave is 12th-century and has nearly opposing north and south doorways of the period. Seen from outside, the blocked north doorway, recessed in a thicker part of the wall, has a semicircular arch and original abaci on the west; reset above the doorway are fragments of 12th-century carved stone and a sheela-na-gig. The south doorway, now connecting nave and vestry, is of one order with attached shafts. About 1200 the church became cruciform with the building of transepts, tower, and a new chancel. Chancel and north transept have doorways contemporary with their build: towards the west end of the chancel a priest's doorway pierces the south wall, and until 1882 (fn. 969) another doorway pierced the north wall and perhaps gave access to the tower stair; the blocked doorway in the north transept ceased to be external when the west aisle was added in 1868. There were two almost opposing lancets in the north transept but the western one was reset in the aisle added in 1868. The south transept has an original south doorway and a lancet in the east wall; another lancet, reset in the aisle added in 1867, ceased to be external when the vestry was extended in 1882. In the nave the double lancet in the south wall may be 13th-century. In the chancel a new east window was inserted probably in the 14th century, and the north and south windows of the transepts, though possibly repaired in the early 17th century, may also be 14th-century insertions. The nave and chancel roofs are of coupled rafters, the former with straight braces to the collars, the latter with curved braces; the north-transept coupled rafters have alternating curved and straight braces.
A low side window and a window above it, at the south-west corner of the chancel, are probably 15th-century. (fn. 970) The sill of the upper window, recut from a tomb cross, contains a piscina presumed to have served an altar in a rood loft at the west end of the chancel; window and piscina are the only evidence of the existence of a loft. The low side window may have lit a priest's desk. The font also is 15th-century, (fn. 971) and the ashlar upper storey of the tower and the south-transept roof, arch-braced with the wind braces arranged in quatrefoils, perhaps date from c. 1500. (fn. 972)
In the early 17th century Bonham Norton's widow Jane (née Owen) rebuilt the west wall of the church, and at her death in 1640 she endowed the repair of the west end. (fn. 973) Probably about the same time the two-light south window in the chancel replaced a smaller window and other repairs to doors and windows were made.
About 1830 the church's 'beautiful appearance' inside was attributed to R. N. Pemberton's activity and taste. Perhaps in 1819 he had provided a new east window, with glass by David Evans of Shrewsbury, and fitted up the chancel with Jacobean and earlier woodwork collected from various places. (fn. 974) Repairs to the end of the south transept involved considerable rebuilding in 1827. (fn. 975) On Pemberton's proposal in 1831 a new west entrance was provided and a vestry room was built on the site of the old wooden south porch; a west gallery was built with pews in the front rows. The north transept was roofed with Broseley tiles in 1833. (fn. 976) The tower was repaired in 1839, (fn. 977) and in 1841 the nave was roofed with Broseley tiles and crests. (fn. 978)
The church was restored in 1867-8. S. Pountney Smith's original scheme (fn. 979) was considerably modified (fn. 980) to achieve, in the end, the removal of the west gallery and the addition of a west aisle to each transept; encaustic tiles were laid, new seats replaced the old pews in nave and transepts, and new choir seats replaced the rector's pews at the west end of the chancel. The font was moved across the nave from the north doorway to the south. (fn. 981) In 1880 a pulpit of mixed native and foreign marbles on a Caen stone base, designed by Smith in an Early English style, was installed at the corner of the chancel and north transept in memory of H. O. Wilson; (fn. 982) it replaced a three-decker Jacobean pulpit at the corner of the chancel and south transept, parts of which, in 1885, were arranged around the font, (fn. 983) probably then moved down the nave to the south-west corner. The top of the tower was rebuilt with a new, pyramidal, roof and new pinnacles in 1880-1. (fn. 984) The vestry was extended probably in 1882, (fn. 985) when a new organ chamber was built north of the chancel. (fn. 986) It was probably in Noel-Hill's time that the inside walls were scraped. (fn. 987)
A carved oak chancel screen by S. Bodley was fitted in 1898. (fn. 988) Much restoration work was carried out in the 1930s. (fn. 989) In 1977 the sanctuary was enlarged and the altar-rail entrance widened. In 1984 the chancel screen was removed and the north transept aisle, enclosed with glass fitted to parts of the screen, became an Emmaus chapel for worship and private prayer. (fn. 990)
In the chancel the north window and the low side window contain Flemish roundels and panels of the late 16th and 17th centuries; (fn. 991) the high window includes fragments said to have come from St. Mary's, Shrewsbury. (fn. 992) Several windows have Victorian glass (fn. 993) but the glass in the north and south windows of the transepts is 20th-century, the latter replacing glass given by Edward Gibbon of Little Stretton c. 1873. (fn. 994) The south-transept lancet depicts 'Jessica' in memory of the writer 'Hesba Stretton' (Sarah Smith, d. 1911). (fn. 995) The south window of the south-transept aisle contains glass commemorating Edward (d. 1455) and Elizabeth Leighton, of Stretton, and Lord Leighton of Stretton (1830-96), P.R.A. 1878-96. (fn. 996)
In 1553 the church had five bells and a sanctus bell and a silver chalice. Except for a paten of 1798 the other plate was 19th-century or later. (fn. 997)
The registers begin in 1662 and are complete thereafter. (fn. 998)
The churchyard occupied c. ¾ a. in 1839. (fn. 999) In the early 19th century its wall was divided into some 76 'hayments' whose repair, with the repair of the gates and stile, was apportioned to the landowners. (fn. 1000) The churchyard was slightly reduced on the west for road widening in 1934. (fn. 1001) An additional burial ground, c. 1 a. at the south end of the town, was consecrated in 1869. (fn. 1002)
There was one papist in the parish in 1676 and 1686 (fn. 1003) but none in 1767. (fn. 1004) A mission opened in 1907-8, when the Catholic population was 20, was served for some years from neighbouring Catholic parishes. At first mass was celebrated in a house in Watling Street, later in Manchester House, Churchway. The first resident priest arrived in 1923, and St. Milburga's church opened in 1929 with seating for 70. Designed by F. H. Shayler of Shrewsbury, church and presbytery were built at the corner of Sandford Avenue and Watling Street North on land given by Mrs. Sarah Dutton of Shrewsbury. (fn. 1005) The Church Stretton priest served Acton Burnell until 1939-40 when sisters of Our Lady of Sion established a convent in the Hall there and a resident priest was appointed. (fn. 1006) By c. 1990 the Catholic population was 185, and Craven Arms and Plowden were then served from Church Stretton. (fn. 1007)
In 1946 Brockhurst (fn. 1008) was opened as St. Mary's scholasticate by missionaries of the Company of Mary (Montfort Fathers). The scholasticate professors served regular mass centres at Clun, Knighton (Radnors.), Mawley (in Cleobury Mortimer), Middleton Priors, Shipton, and Much Wenlock but left c. 1968. (fn. 1009)
Henry Maurice, rector 1668-71, favoured the nonconformists and resigned the living. He preached at Church Stretton as a nonconformist before receiving his licence, soon establishing himself in Much Wenlock and becoming an itinerant preacher in Breconshire. (fn. 1010) At Stretton he left a small dissenting congregation. Thomas Sankey and his wife and Thomas Gallier's wife Elizabeth had been presented as 'anabaptists' in 1662, (fn. 1011) and in 1669 Joan, widow of Jerome Zankey, and Elizabeth Gallier were reputed 'schismatics'. (fn. 1012) Joan Zankey's house in All Stretton was licensed for Congregational worship in 1672 (fn. 1013) and that year three men and the wife of one of them were presented for frequenting conventicles. (fn. 1014) There were two dissenters in 1676 (fn. 1015) and next year John Gallier, anabaptist, was apparently converted and baptized into the church. (fn. 1016) A meeting house was licensed in 1725 and the Baker family were anabaptists in the early 1730s (fn. 1017) but there were no dissenters in the parish by 1767. (fn. 1018) Meeting houses were registered in 1808 and 1833. (fn. 1019)
Primitive Methodists of the Bishop's Castle circuit (founded 1832) were at work in Church Stretton in the 1830s. From 1837 or earlier there were meetings in the town. It was not fertile ground, but the northern and southern parts of the parish were, and meetings just beyond the parish boundary were probably accessible to the remoter parishioners. It was the success of the area's scattered rural meetings that enabled a Church Stretton branch (with 121 members) to organize itself within the circuit from 1844 and the branch became a circuit (with 154 members) in 1872. (fn. 1020) Church Stretton was in Shrewsbury Methodist circuit 1952-64, Craven Arms and Church Stretton circuit 1964-72, and Shropshire South circuit from 1972. (fn. 1021)
In the northern part of the parish there were Primitive Methodist meetings at All Stretton by 1837, Bullocks Moor by 1838, (fn. 1022) and Lower Wood by 1842. (fn. 1023) Pennsylvania, on plan from 1854, became the strongest of the area's meetings. (fn. 1024) In 1866 the All Stretton meeting was using a private house (fn. 1025) and may have ceased soon after. Lower Wood throve less than other meetings in the parish in the 1860s and came off plan in 1872; (fn. 1026) soon afterwards, however, the Pennsylvania meeting began to plan the building of a chapel at Lower Wood, which opened in 1876. (fn. 1027) It closed c. 1950. (fn. 1028)
In the southern part of the parish there were Primitive Methodist meetings at Minton and Little Stretton by 1839. (fn. 1029) By 1851, when there was a Hamperley meeting just over the boundary in Wistanstow parish, (fn. 1030) the Minton meeting may have ceased, but the Little Stretton meeting prospered in the 1860s: in 1863-4 there were camp and protracted meetings there and plans were formed to build a chapel. (fn. 1031) Opened in 1868, it stood at the northern end of the village. (fn. 1032) There was a resident minister by 1885 and until 1906; his manse was a small cottage nearby. (fn. 1033) The chapel had closed by the mid 1950s. (fn. 1034)
A 'preaching house' in Church Stretton was in use in 1837 but seems to have been given up on grounds of expense next year. There were camp meetings and open-air preachings, and travelling preachers evidently stayed in the town, but it was a difficult place, mission territory, taken off plan in 1840. (fn. 1035) Carding Mill came on plan in 1855 but was off next year. (fn. 1036) A regular meeting in the town in the 1860s had no premises of its own: the town hall was used at Christmas 1863. A year later hopes of building a chapel were entertained, but in 1865 it was agreed to try to get the Congregationalists' room should they give it up. (fn. 1037) Not until 1906, however, was a Methodist chapel opened in the town: of Ruabon brick and to a design by W. Scott Deakin of Shrewsbury, it was built at the corner of Crossways and Watling Street in a rapidly developing area. (fn. 1038) A manse nearby was taken in 1906 and the Little Stretton cottage was given up; c. 1922 a manse was built on land adjoining the church, partly with materials from the recently demolished Preen Manor. (fn. 1039) A Sunday school was built between church and manse in 1956. (fn. 1040)
By 1850 there were Wesleyan meetings on the Ludlow circuit at All Stretton (6 members) and Minton (4). There may have been a failed attempt to establish one at Little Stretton next year, but in 1858 a meeting started there and over the next ten years membership doubled from 7 to 14. The Minton meeting, though it had doubled its membership by 1860, ceased in 1860 and the All Stretton meeting ceased in 1862. (fn. 1041) At Little Stretton, however, a chapel was opened in the 1870s and there was a resident minister. (fn. 1042) The chapel closed soon after 1922. (fn. 1043)
Congregational worship in Church Stretton began in the summer of 1858 on the initiative of ministers and laymen from Shrewsbury, Dorrington, and Ludlow. The first services were open-air, under the town hall. Later a room that had been a carpenter's workshop was taken; despite its shortcomings (approach by a narrow stepladder and inconveniently low) the cause prospered. A Sunday school was established and services began at an out-station at All Stretton. In 1860 a church of seven members was formed under the auspices of the Castle Gates Congregational church in Shrewsbury. In 1865-6 a chapel was built in High Street on a site for which Thomas Barnes, M.P., had advanced the money. (fn. 1044) Designed in a gothic style by Joseph Bratton of Birkenhead, the chapel was renovated in 1886 and 1900 and refurbished in 1937. (fn. 1045) It prospered in the 1870s and from the beginning there was a resident minister (fn. 1046) save for the years 1882-99; (fn. 1047) in the early 20th century the manse was in Watling Street (fn. 1048) but later elsewhere in the town. (fn. 1049) In 1957 a hall was added south of the church. (fn. 1050) The church had 72 members in 1985. (fn. 1051)
In All Stretton a cottage in the Row was used for Congregational worship until 1895, and then larger premises in the Old Room, farther along the lane, until 1907. (fn. 1052) A mission church seating 120 was built at the northern end of the Row in 1907. (fn. 1053) It closed in 1984 when United Reformed Church members in the village began to use St. Michael's. (fn. 1054)
There were two principal schools in the parish: an endowed or charity (fn. 1055) church school that existed by the end of the 16th century and became a primary school in 1948, and a modern school which opened that year and later became comprehensive. There were also, however, private schools from the late 18th century and a workhouse school in the 19th century.
Private schools were held by Mr. J. Meredith, master of an 'academy', from 1791 to 1801, by a Mrs. Johnson in 1797, and by Miss Perkins and Miss Rogers in 1806. (fn. 1056) In 1819, besides the endowed school and a Sunday school, there were five small schools containing c. 46 young children. By 1835 there were two infant schools attended by 13 boys and 21 girls, whose parents paid fees. There were also two fee-paying schools for older children. One, kept by the Misses Corfield in Ragleth House, High Street, until the 1850s, had 30 girls. The other had 32 boys; it was a commercial boarding school kept by William Craig in Grove House, All Stretton, from 1830 or earlier to 1842 or later. (fn. 1057) In 1856 there were three private schools: a boarding school in the town (the Park) and another at All Stretton and a day school at Little Stretton. The two last were short-lived but Park House was a school until c. 1870. (fn. 1058) Ashbrook Villa, north of the town, was a school c. 1885-1900. In the years before 1914 five private schools were started in or near the town: at Brockhurst, Burway House (the old church school), and Clivedon by 1905, Ashlett House, High Street, by 1909, and Mount View, Hazler Lane, by 1913. Only the first two survived the First World War, lasting into the early 1940s, when Brockhurst preparatory school was moved to Staffordshire. The Mount, Sandford Avenue, was a private school c. 1929- 41. (fn. 1059)
Church Stretton poor-law union school was held at the workhouse built in 1838. (fn. 1060) It had 21 pupils in 1849 and was fairly efficient except in industrial training; the mistress was paid only £4 a year. (fn. 1061) In 1893, the school's last year, the mistress received £23 17s. 4d. (fn. 1062) From 1894 workhouse children attended the church school. (fn. 1063)
There was a schoolmaster in 1589. Sir Rowland Hayward (d. 1593) left £1 13s. 4d. a year towards his maintenance, and the rector added 20s. a year in 1595 when the parish agreed to abolish the church ale. (fn. 1064) Robert Taylor taught school in 1676, (fn. 1065) Edmund Cheese in 1693. Although Bonham Norton had been expected to build a school, Cheese apparently taught school in the church. (fn. 1066) In 1716 the master, duly licensed, was teaching the catechism and taking his pupils to church. (fn. 1067) In 1720 Thomas Bridgman left the master 40s. a year to teach four poor children to read. Eventually a school was built by subscription on roadside waste opposite the Hall lawn. A new school and house were built there in 1779. By then some encroachments on the commons and wastes were evidently appropriated to the school. Under the 1788 Inclosure Act c. 27 a. in Womerton wood were confirmed to the school and a body of endowment trustees was formed. (fn. 1068)
In 1790 Edward Lloyd of Bank House left a stock of £50 to apprentice two pupils; the apprenticeship fund, still managed by the school trustees in 1926, was well used. Lloyd also left £50 to increase the salary of the master, who was then teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic to 15 poor scholars, aged 7-11 and elected by the trustees, who paid him £1 a year for each. (fn. 1069) In 1831 the school received £42 12s. 4d., almost wholly from endowment; a Sunday school, in existence by 1790, then received £9 14s., £7 13s. of it from legacies of Lloyd and John Mainwaring (d. 1807), rector. The master had £40 a year and his house. In the day school there were 60 free pupils, labourers' children, and 11 whose fees varied from 2s. to 7s. a quarter; coal, books, and slates were provided from the endowment. Fifteen children attended the Sunday school only. The school was conducted on the National system and girls learned sewing. (fn. 1070) In 1851 there were 120 pupils. (fn. 1071)
The school building (fn. 1072) was sold when a new National school and teacher's house were built, with the aid of voluntary contributions and grants, on a site in Back Lane given by C. O. Childe-Pemberton; it opened, with 144 places, in 1861. (fn. 1073) Income for 1864-5 exceeded expenditure by c. £20, and over 60 per cent of it came from endowment (£46 9s. 6d.) and voluntary contributions (£8); fees varied according to parents' means. The master (certificated) and his wife had a joint salary of £65. In 1867 there were 65 boys and 65 girls in school, tradesmen's and farm labourers' children; one boy learned mensuration or book keeping. (fn. 1074) The school, under inspection from 1869, had one or two pupil teachers in training between 1870 and 1907. By 1870 there was a Standard VI, and grammar and geography were taught. Usually efficient, the school earned government grant by 1870, (fn. 1075) drawing grant from 1892. (fn. 1076) Conditions, however, were difficult (fn. 1077) and staffing not always adequate. (fn. 1078) Alterations in 1894 increased places to 220, much of the cost being raised by sale of endowment stock and an appeal for a voluntary rate as the alternative to a school board. Further alterations in 1912 produced 235 places, later reduced to 191. (fn. 1079) Attendance was often well below the number on roll, but the badly venti lated building was often overcrowded. (fn. 1080) A night school was held from 1869 or earlier to 1880. (fn. 1081) Gardening was taught from 1902 and domestic science in the Silvester Horne Institute from 1918; domestic science and woodwork centres in the parish hall opened in 1936. (fn. 1082) An infant class was held in the same hall from 1932. (fn. 1083) The roll was c. 184 in 1926 and c. 243 in 1934. The school took Liverpool and other evacuees from 1939, and until 1941 it used rooms at the Methodist and Congregational chapels. (fn. 1084)
The school became a junior and infant school in 1948 when seniors transferred to the new modern school. (fn. 1085) It became controlled in 1954 and was then renovated. (fn. 1086) It was overcrowded in the 1950s: (fn. 1087) one class used an upper room in the parish hall 1953-60, (fn. 1088) another used a room in the Silvester Horne Institute 1956-60. (fn. 1089) From 1961 juniors were taught in huts in Essex Road, vacated by the modern school, infants at the old school. (fn. 1090) A new open-plan building, with 250 places, opened next to the modern school in Shrewsbury Road in 1968, and two demountable classrooms were added next year. (fn. 1091) The numbers on roll rose in the 1950s and 1960s to peak at 357 in 1968; they remained over 300 throughout the 1970s but fell thereafter. (fn. 1092)
Church Stretton Modern school, with 200 places, opened in 1948 (fn. 1093) in huts at the corner of Sandford Avenue and Essex Road, formerly a St. Dunstan's workshop and instruction centre. (fn. 1094) New buildings on the workhouse site in Shrewsbury Road opened in 1960; (fn. 1095) the 240 places increased to 600 (fn. 1096) after enlargements in 1965 and in the 1970s. (fn. 1097) In 1977, as Church Stretton school, it became compehensive for pupils aged 11-16; older pupils could go to schools in Ludlow or Shrewsbury or to Shrewsbury Technical College. (fn. 1098) The roll was 173 in 1948, 248 in 1960, and 310 in 1970, rising thereafter to a peak of 629 in 1983; in 1986 it was 569. (fn. 1099)
County-council classes in cookery, horticulture, chemistry, botany, and insect pests were held in 1891-2, in hygiene 1893-1900, in horticulture in 1901-2, and in music and drawing in 1905-6. There was a continuation school in 1894-5 and 1899-1903. Attendance was usually poor. (fn. 1100) Evening classes for boys and girls were held 1932-4, and an evening institute at the modern school from 1948. (fn. 1101)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
In 1677 the parish stock was said to have been almost all lost through the 'incuriousness' of past churchwardens. (fn. 1102) Soon thereafter, however, it began to grow again as gifts and legacies were made for bread and cash doles, principally at Easter and about Christmas time. (fn. 1103)
In 1684 a meadow in Little Stretton pools was settled in trust for poor parishioners and in 1704 Thomas Hawkes of Botvyle (fn. 1104) left £30 to buy land to endow weekly bread doles for the neediest churchgoers or parishioners disabled from getting to church. In 1708 Hawkes's legacy was used to buy a house in the town as an endowment or dwelling for the poor; house and Pools meadow were then vested in trustees and it was perhaps on those trustees (fn. 1105) that, in 1735, Edward Phillips the elder settled Street meadow (c. 2¾ a.) for the poor. Appointment of trustees being neglected, the trust seems to have devolved on the rector and churchwardens by the early 19th century. Meanwhile bread and cash doles at Easter and about Christmas time had been endowed with capital amounting by 1830 to £268 10s.: (fn. 1106) William Minton of Minton (fn. 1107) had left £6 in 1701, Randolph Jones £10 in 1710, Thomas Bridgman 30s. in 1720, Edward Phillips the younger £30 in 1781, (fn. 1108) Edward Lloyd of Bank House (fn. 1109) £21 in 1790, John Bridgman £100 in 1804, and John Mainwaring, rector, £100 in 1807. About 1830 those sums produced £13 17s. a year and Stretton Pools meadow, Hawkes's charity, and Street meadow produced another £13 10s.; except for a 6s. rent charge representing Minton's legacy, the income was then carried to a fund augmented with sacrament money from the church and other voluntary contributions. The whole income was spent on Sunday bread doles and in gifts of bread and cash at Easter and about Christmas time.
About 1830 the poor rate contributed £3 1s. of the parish charities, representing interest on Hawkes's, Jones's, and Lloyd's charities: the house bought with Hawkes's legacy had been taken over as the parish poor-house and the other two legacies had evidently been spent on it. Under the 1788 Inclosure Act two small inclosures were allotted in respect of Stretton Pools meadow and Street meadow; £10 which Thomas Harrison left in 1794 for Christmas gifts to the poor was spent on the allotments but they were too small to be worth keeping. They were therefore conveyed to John Robinson, a mercer of the town, and in return he built two almshouses next to the parish workhouse in 1829; at the same time two more were built, partly at Robinson's expense and partly with contributions from others. (fn. 1110) The rector and churchwardens nominated the almshouse residents, who paid 4s. a year rent to a repair fund. (fn. 1111) The almshouses, perhaps never very eligible accommodation, were sold in 1921. (fn. 1112)
In 1841 Elizabeth Metcalf left money for the use of the poor. Her legacy and all those previously mentioned were united in 1907 as the Church Stretton consolidated charities; property and investments then produced £48 13s. 8d. a year. (fn. 1113) About 1975 annual income was c. £100. (fn. 1114)
The Church Stretton Nursing Charity and Nunn's Hospital Fund was established in 1880 by gift of Harriet Esther Nunn to provide a nurse, in cases of severe illness, for such of the sick poor as could not otherwise obtain one. About 1975 annual income was £34. In 1978 the Fund was united with the Shropshire Sanatorium Care Committee Fund, then governed under schemes of 1955 and 1967 for the benefit of poor residents of Church Stretton parish or the surrounding district suffering, or lately suffering, from tuberculosis; c. 1975 annual income had been some £9. By 1982 the annual income (c. £100) of the amalgamated charity, known since 1978 as the Church Stretton Nunn Trust and Sickness Charity, was used to alleviate sickness or disability or to assist convalescence. (fn. 1115)
The Arthur George Woolley Trusts were established in 1957 to relieve poverty in the parishes of Church Stretton and All Stretton and the neighbourhood; c. 1975 annual income was £149. (fn. 1115)