Parishes: Northfield

A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


'Parishes: Northfield', A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3, (London, 1913), pp. 194-201. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

. "Parishes: Northfield", in A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3, (London, 1913) 194-201. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

. "Parishes: Northfield", A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3, (London, 1913). 194-201. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

In this section


Nordfeld (xi cent.).

The parish of Northfield is situated on the northern border of the county, but with the exception of the Bartley Green area, which was annexed to Lapal, Northfield was incorporated in the city of Birmingham by the Birmingham Extension Act, 1911. It had in 1901 an area of 6,011 acres, of which 60 acres were covered with water, 968½ were arable land, 3,486 permanent grass, and 30½ woods and plantations. (fn. 1)

Until the 19th century Northfield was an agricultural parish, but by the rapid expansion of Birmingham it has become part of that city, and in the ten years between 1891 and 1901 its population increased from 9,907 to 20,767. This increase is partly due to the influx of a suburban population and partly to the erection of works in the neighbourhood. The change is manifested most strongly in the northern part of the parish, where Selly Oak, lying between Northfield and Birmingham, has sprung into such importance as quite to dwarf the ancient village of Northfield.

Bournbrook and Selly Park are continuations north-eastward of Selly Oak; California is a 'village of brickmakers' on the banks of the Birmingham and Worcester Canal in the north of the parish.

A supposed Roman road, called the Upper Saltway, passed from Selly Oak over the Lickey Hills on its way to Worcester, and can still be traced along the high road between Birmingham and Worcester. (fn. 2) This high road is joined in the village of Northfield by the Alcester and Birmingham road.

The pumping-station of the Birmingham Corporation water-works is at Selly Oak.

The Evans Cottage Homes at Selly Oak were founded in 1868 by the late Alfred Smith Evans for ladies of reduced fortunes. The homes consist of a group containing nine dwellings.

There are some old cottages called The Rookery in Bournbrook Lane, near Selly Oak, in which the bricks are disposed in herring-bone fashion. (fn. 3)

Among the place-names are 'Bromewychestude' (fn. 4) and Hatherleye, (fn. 5) which occur in the 14th century, and Brokhole tenement (fn. 6) in the 15th century.


The manor of NORTHFIELD was held of the king in chief as part of the barony of Dudley. (fn. 7) In 1086 it was in the hands of William Fitz Ansculf, the Norman lord of Dudley, to whom it had passed from Aelfwold, the Saxon holder. (fn. 8) No under-tenant is mentioned.

Until the early 14th century this manor descended with the barony of Dudley (q.v.). During that period it is sometimes called the manor of Northfield, sometimes the manor of Weoley. It is clear, however, that only one chief manor existed, and that it was divided into the three tithings of Northfield, Selly and Middleton. (fn. 9) Of these Selly and Middleton were sub-manors, which owed suit at the court of the great manor held at Weoley. Selly was already in existence at the time of Domesday, while Middleton was carved out of the chief manor during the latter half of the 12th century.

When John de Somery died in 1322 (fn. 10) the vill of Northfield was assigned to his younger sister Joan, (fn. 11) the widow of Thomas Botetourt, and she held it until her death in 1338. (fn. 12) Her son John being a minor, (fn. 13) Edward III granted the custody of her lands in 1339 to his kinswoman Eleanor Beaumont, (fn. 14) but in the following year John Botetourt, afterwards a knight, had livery of his lands. (fn. 15) He acted as justice of the peace for the county of Worcester, and as a commissioner of array in Warwickshire, (fn. 16) and died in 1386. (fn. 17) His only son John had predeceased him, leaving a daughter Joyce, the wife of Sir Hugh Burnell of Holdgate. (fn. 18) Joyce, therefore, became her grandfather's heir, and immediately after entering into possession settled Northfield on herself and her husband. (fn. 19) She died in 1407 without issue, leaving as heirs her aunts, Joyce wife of Sir Adam Peshall, Maud Botetourt a nun in Polesworth Abbey, and Agnes Botetourt a nun in Elstow Abbey, the sisters of her father John Botetourt, and her cousins Maurice Berkeley, the grandson of another sister Katharine, and Agnes and Joyce Wykes, the granddaughters of Alice, another sister. (fn. 20) Of these heirs Maud and Agnes Botetourt apparently could not or did not claim, and Agnes Wykes died unmarried shortly afterwards, so that the reversion of the manor after the death of Sir Hugh Burnell, who held it by the courtesy of England, belonged to Joyce Peshall, Joyce Wykes, who became the wife of Hugh Stranley or Stanley, and Maurice Berkeley. In 1417 Hugh Stranley and Joyce conveyed the reversion of their third part of the manor of Northfield to Nicholas Ruggeley and his wife Edith, (fn. 21) who immediately afterwards sold it to Joan Lady Beauchamp, widow of William Beauchamp of Bergavenny. (fn. 22) who in 1419 acquired another third from Sir Adam Peshall and Joyce. (fn. 23) Maurice Berkeley came into possession of his third on the death of Sir Hugh Burnell in 1419, (fn. 24) and shortly afterwards a dispute arose between him and Lady Beauchamp respecting this and other manors. (fn. 25) The exact cause of the dispute is not clear, but it may have arisen because of the difficulty of dividing Joyce Burnell's property. In 1431 Lady Beauchamp and Maurice held the manor jointly, (fn. 26) but by subsequent arbitration it was decided that the castle of Weoley and manors of Northfield and Cradley should pass to Maurice Berkeley as well as 40s. out of the manor of Old Swinford. (fn. 27)

Lady Beauchamp had previously conveyed the manor to trustees for her grandson James Butler, (fn. 28) and probably the settlement took place after her death in 1435, since the trustees appear to have acted alone. (fn. 29) Maurice Berkeley died seised of the manor in 1464 and was succeeded by his son and heir William Berkeley, (fn. 30) afterwards a knight, who on 7 November 1485 was attainted and forfeited his estates for his adherence to Richard III. (fn. 31) On 2 March 1486 Henry VII granted it to his uncle Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford, and his heirs male, (fn. 32) but ten days later sold it to John Lord Dudley. (fn. 33) This curious double dealing naturally led to complications, which were increased when in 1489 Sir William Berkeley was restored and the reversion of the manor after the death of the Duke of Bedford was granted to him. (fn. 34) It is not clear who received the issues of the manor, for in 1495 Edward Lord Dudley, who had succeeded his grandfather John Lord Dudley in 1487, (fn. 35) stated that he was unaware of the grant to Jasper Tudor, (fn. 36) and it could scarcely have remained unknown to him if he received no profits from Northfield. The approaching death of the Duke of Bedford induced both Lord Dudley and Sir William Berkeley in 1495 to present petitions to the king in the furtherance of their individual interests. (fn. 37) In reply to these petitions the king in 1495 confirmed the manor to Lord Dudley. (fn. 38) In spite of this, on the death of the Duke of Bedford, in December 1495, the king entered into possession of the manor, and on the death of Sir William Berkeley granted all his right in it to Richard Berkeley, son of William, in 1501. (fn. 39) Under an Act of 1523 Northfield was confirmed to Lord Dudley, (fn. 40) who dealt with it in 1531 (fn. 41) and sold it at about this time to Richard Jervoise, citizen and mercer of London, (fn. 42) 'a man of grete power and having grete substance and a man of grete possessions.' (fn. 43) Richard Jervoise did not reside at Northfield, (fn. 44) but leased the site of the castle to John Churchman of Northfield (fn. 45) and the park to John Statham. (fn. 46)

Berkeley. Gules a cheveron between ten crosses formy argent.

For nearly three hundred years the manor of Northfield was held by the Jervoise family of Herriard and Britford. (fn. 47) On the death of Thomas Clarke Jervoise in 1809 it was purchased by Mr. Daniel Ledsam of Edgbaston, Birmingham, (fn. 48) with whose descendants it still remained in 1902.

Jervoise of Herriard. Sable a cheveron between three eagles close argent.

The CASTLE OF WEOLEY has long since fallen into decay and little now remains of it except part of the south wall. Its site, somewhat difficult of access, is about a mile west of Selly Oak station and close to the northern boundary of the parish. It is surrounded by a large and deep moat fed by a small stream on the west. The Birmingham and Worcester Canal skirts its northern side and is separated from the moat by a narrow strip of land. To the south of the moat is Weoley Castle Farm, into the buildings of which a part of the stone belonging to the castle has been built. (fn. 49) The island on which the castle stood is now laid out as the kitchen garden of the farm. The area covered by the castle and moats is said to have been about 4 acres. (fn. 50)

Of the origin of Weoley Castle little is known. It is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, and doubtless its history as a castle dates from the latter half of the 13th century, when in 1264 Roger de Somery had the royal licence to crenellate his manorhouse of Weoley. (fn. 51)

In 1322 Weoley Castle was assigned with Northfield Manor to Joan Botetourt, (fn. 52) but it is not mentioned in the extent of the manor taken at her death in 1338. (fn. 53) Weoley Castle descended with the manor of Northfield and was involved with it in the dispute between Maurice Berkeley and Joan Lady Beauchamp. The Berkeleys resided there, Maurice Berkeley being described as of Weoley in 1464–5. (fn. 54) His son Sir William Berkeley also made Weoley Castle his home (fn. 55) until deprived of it by his attainder. Probably its decay dates from that period because of the uncertainty as to ownership which must have followed the king's various grants (see under Manor). Richard Jervoise apparently never resided there. Some Chancery proceedings of Elizabeth's reign refer to the site of the castle (fn. 56) as if it had passed out of use as a residence.

It was probably in ruins by the middle of the 17th century, as Habington mentions no castle as being then in existence, and in draft particulars for a contemplated sale dated at about that time it is described as 'a ruyned castell.' (fn. 57)

In a survey of 1432–3 it is described as 'the Castell of Weoley with a water called the mote compassing the 1st Castell, in which is a great halle with a great chambre in the upper ende, … a Chapell set by hitselfe in the north part of the Castell covered wit lead, and a vestre adjoining the same Chapell, … vi turrets of stone whereof the gate at the entre of the 3d Castell is one with 6 chambres and chymies in the same.' (fn. 58)

A deer park was in existence at Weoley as early as 1273. (fn. 59) In 1275–6 Sir Roger de Somery was said to have inclosed within it 40 acres of the common pasture. (fn. 60) The park appears to have been well stocked at that time, for in August 1273 the king sent John son of John to take venison in the park and to cause it to be salted and kept in barrels in a safe place until further orders, (fn. 61) and in the following year the keeper of the park was ordered to allow Robert Tiptot to have twenty does. (fn. 62) In 1291, however, it was stated that there were no deer in Weoley Park. (fn. 63) In 1386 it was returned that the pasture of the park was worth 20s. yearly beyond the sustenance of the animals there. (fn. 64) In 1425 William Lovecock was presented for shooting arrows at the lady's wild deer in the park and having his greyhound continually running there without licence, while John and Thomas Preston of Harborne chased hares, martens and 'fysshers' or polecats in the park. (fn. 65) When Richard Jervoise purchased the manor of Northfield there were about 100 deer in the park, but in a few years George Walsh, his bailiff, decreased their number to twenty. (fn. 66) The park is not mentioned after this time.

In the reign of Henry VI there are said to have been eight beer-tasters within the manor. (fn. 67) About the same time many of the manorial offices, such as constable, beadle and reeve, were held by women; thus in 1444 Margery Vytteshalle, widow, was elected reeve and Elizabeth Thicknesse constable, the latter appointing a male deputy. (fn. 68)

Two water-mills and a fishery were held with the manor in 1272–3 and 1338, (fn. 69) while in 1368 there were three mills worth 30s., a fishery worth 20s. at Weoley and two fishponds worth 6s. 8d. (fn. 70) One water corn-mill was sold with the manor to Richard Jervoise, (fn. 71) and still formed part of it in 1789. (fn. 72)

Two entries occur in Domesday Book respecting 'Escelie'; both may refer to SELLY OAK (Selleie, xii cent.; Selley, (fn. 73) xiii cent.), although it is also possible that one may be identifiable with the later Weoley, which is not otherwise mentioned in the Survey. Both 'Escelies' were held by William Fitz Ansculf. The larger and more valuable of the two contained 4 hides, and to it belonged the berewick of Bartley Green. (fn. 74) It was held under Fitz Ansculf by Wibert, who had succeeded one Wulfwine, by whom it had been bought for three lives from the Bishop of Chester. Although Wulfwine's last wish was that when his wife died the manor should return to the church from which he had it, and his son, the Bishop of Lichfield, knew of this wish, to which the chief men of the whole country could testify, (fn. 75) his desire remained unfulfilled, and once it had passed into the hands of the Norman lord of Dudley it remained in his possession and descended with his lands. The other 'Escelie' contained I hide, and had been held by Tumi and Eleva as two manors; from them it had passed to Robert, the Domesday under-tenant. (fn. 76)

Only one Selly, held of the manor of Northfield, (fn. 77) is afterwards mentioned. Although from 1086 until the middle of the 13th century there is no definite evidence to show who held Selly, its subsequent history shows that for a considerable part of that time it was held by a family who sometimes bore the name of Selly and sometimes that of Barnack, from the parish of that name in Northamptonshire, where they also held land. In 1166 Gervase de Barnack was one of the knights of Gervase Paynel. (fn. 78)

In 1231 Richard son of Gervase de Barnack made an agreement with the Abbot of Peterborough concerning a certain rent in Barnack, (fn. 79) and possibly he was the Richard de Selly who was one of the collectors in Worcestershire of the aid for the marriage of Isabella sister of Henry III. (fn. 80) Richard was succeeded by his son Peter, who in 1254 received a grant of free warren in his demesne lands of Selly and Barnack, (fn. 81) and was followed by Richard Selly, probably his son, who paid 20s. for his lands in 1280. (fn. 82) In 1274–5 it was presented that Richard Selly had made a warren at Selly, and that he was of full age, but not yet knighted. (fn. 83) A few years later Richard died, leaving a son John, a minor. (fn. 84) In 1291 John de Selly held half a knight's fee in Selly, (fn. 85) and in 1319–20 had been succeeded by his son Geoffrey, (fn. 86) who was accused in 1328 of having broken into the houses of Thomas de Blaunfront at Alvechurch, (fn. 87) and in 1331 aided in besieging the castle of Dudley. (fn. 88) He did not lose prestige by these misdeeds, however, for in 1338–9 the king committed to him, under the name of Geoffrey de Barnack, jointly with Roger de Aylesbury, the custody of John Botetourt. (fn. 89)

After this the descent of Selly for some years is obscure. A Geoffrey de Selly and his son John were living in Northfield in 1362–3. (fn. 90) According to the Visitation of Surrey, (fn. 91) Geoffrey de Barnack was succeeded by his son John, who left a daughter and co-heir Joan, the wife of Thomas Vincent. The manor of Barnack certainly passed to the Vincent family, (fn. 92) but Selly followed a different descent. In 1402–3 a third part of it was in the hands of Henry Prest and his wife Joan, as the right of Joan, who then conveyed it to Henry Wybbe. (fn. 93) In 1482 the whole manor was in the hands of Thomas Jennett, who according to the Visitation of Worcester of 1569 married Alice the sister of Henry Wybbe, (fn. 94) and probably acquired the manor of Selly in this way. Thomas Jennett died in 1482, leaving a son William who had been an idiot since his birth, but who nevertheless entered into possession of the manor, (fn. 95) and jointly with Agneta or Anne his wife dealt with land there in 1502. (fn. 96)

In 1508 William Jennett and Anne conveyed the manor to Sir Robert Throckmorton, Richard Throckmorton and Henry Durant. (fn. 97) In 1520 it had passed to William Gower and his wife Agnes. (fn. 98) William was succeeded in 1546 by a son Henry. (fn. 99) From Henry Gower the manor descended to his son William, whose son John appears to have been in possession in 1597. (fn. 100) John Gower was apparently succeeded before 1601 by his brother Robert, (fn. 101) and the manor evidently followed the same descent as Colmers in King's Norton (q.v.) from that time until 1719–20, when half the farm called Selly Hall was settled on William Gower of Colmers in King's Norton for life with reversion to John Gower. (fn. 102)

Gower. Azure a cheveron between three wolves' heads razed or.

There are no later documents relating to this manor, which is not mentioned as such by Nash, and had probably before that time (1782) become merged in the manor of Northfield, as Mr. J. F. Ledsam was said to be lord of Selly Oak about the middle of the 19th century.

In 1835 Selly Park Farm was advertised for sale. (fn. 103) The old manor-house at Selly had been converted into three cottages before 1896. (fn. 104)

It is probable that the manor of MIDDLETON (Middeltune, xii cent.) originally formed part of that of Northfield, of which it has always been held. (fn. 105) During the latter half of the 12th century Ralph Paynel gave 'the land of Middletune and lahaie,' the latter being probably the modern Hay Green, to Bernard Paynel. (fn. 106) Bernard was probably the Bernard son of William Paynel who occurs about 1187. (fn. 107) Between that date and 1194, when Gervase Paynel died, Bernard received from Gervase a confirmatory grant of Middleton and 'lahaie.' (fn. 108)

It is not clear how or when Middleton passed away from Bernard Paynel, but towards the end of the 13th century it was held by a family taking their name from the place. A John de Middleton occurs in 1273, (fn. 109) and in 1291 held the township of Middleton. (fn. 110) The Middleton family held the manor for a considerable time, but, as several members bore the name of John, it is not easy to distinguish one generation from another. John de Middleton occurs in 1298 (fn. 111) and in 1310. (fn. 112) In 1315 John son of Philip de Tessall granted to John de Middleton and his heirs a rent of 20d. from land in Northfield. (fn. 113) In 1322 John de Middleton held a quarter of a knight's fee in Northfield. (fn. 114)

The manor of Middleton was settled in 1325–6 on John de Middleton for his life, with remainders to his sons Adam, Thomas and John. (fn. 115) Adam de Middleton probably, therefore, succeeded his father, and was followed in turn by his son Richard. The latter made a grant of land in Middleton in 1366, (fn. 116) and ten years later the 'manor of Middleton and Le Hay' was settled on him and his wife Margery. (fn. 117) Margery survived her husband, and afterwards married one William Ockam or Hoccam. (fn. 118) Richard Middleton had left no son, and Middleton was claimed by four co-heirs, apparently daughters of Richard, (fn. 119) Alice wife of Gerard Kyngeley, Joyce Pepwall, Alice wife of William Merston and Margaret wife of John Mollesley. (fn. 120) Margaret Ockam probably held the manor while she lived, under the settlement mentioned above, and when she died, about 1435, William Ockam prepared to sell it. (fn. 121) The co-heirs intervened, stating that the manor had descended to them as the heirs of Adam Middleton on Richard Middleton's death. (fn. 122) In exchange for a surrender by William Ockam of all his claim in the manor the co-heirs granted it to him for his life at a yearly rent of 6 marks. (fn. 123) Possibly Ockam died a few years later, as on 25 April 1443 one John Merston did homage to the lord of Northfield and Weoley for a moiety of the manor of Middleton, and for the other moiety was summoned with Gerard Kyngeley and John Mollesley also to do homage. (fn. 124)

John Merston is described as a goldsmith of London. (fn. 125) It is not clear how he came to hold a share in the manor. He had some interest in it as early as 1437–8, when he joined with Richard Middleton's co-heirs in resisting William Ockam's claims. (fn. 126) He could not have inherited Alice Merston's share, as she was still living in January 1456, when she 'in her pure widowhood' was holding land in Northfield, (fn. 127) and in April of the same year John Merston settled the manor on himself and his heirs. (fn. 128)

William Merston, son of Alice, dealt with lands there in 1473, and in 1477 with the whole manor of Middleton. (fn. 129) John Merston also held or claimed the whole manor several times during the same period, (fn. 130) and though in 1457 he executed a deed of sale of the manor to Thomas Morgan, in 1466 it was again in the hands of his trustees. (fn. 131) In 1471 Alice, formerly wife of Gerard Kyngeley, granted to John Russell for seventy-nine years certain land near the site of the manor of Middleton. (fn. 132) It would appear, therefore, that the manor had been divided among the co-heirs, and that John and William Merston, though nominally dealing with the whole manor, in reality only held parts of it.

Northfield Church: Windows in North Wall of the Chancel

Middleton is next mentioned in 1522, when Elizabeth Edwards of Stratford-on-Avon leased her manor place there to Henry Morgan and his wife Agnes for sixty-one years. (fn. 133) Elizabeth was possibly the widow of John Edwards, and Agnes was probably his daughter. (fn. 134) A deed of 1526, by which Thomas Greville and his wife Elizabeth, who was perhaps the Elizabeth Edwards mentioned above, conveyed the manor of Middleton to Henry Morgan and Agnes, (fn. 135) may have been in confirmation of their lease. In 1538 the manor was settled on Thomas and Elizabeth Greville for their lives, with remainders to Henry and Agnes Morgan, and to their sons Edward and William. (fn. 136) Edward Morgan afterwards held Middleton, and about 1596 his son Edward is said to have granted a lease of all his lands in Worcestershire to Henry and William Cookes for 3,000 years. (fn. 137) In the same year the reversion of two-thirds of the manor was settled on Henry Cookes and his son William, and of the other third on Richard Vernon, the manor being then held for life by Edward Morgan, jun., and his wife Margaret. (fn. 138)

On 30 September 1598 the lease made in 1596 by Edward Morgan, jun., was cancelled and destroyed, (fn. 139) and apparently a new conveyance was made by which the manor of Middleton passed to the possession of Henry Cookes of Shiltwood in Tardebigge. (fn. 140)

William Cookes, son of this Henry, died seised of the manor in 1619, leaving a son Edward, (fn. 141) on whose death in 1637 it passed to his son William. (fn. 142) William succeeded his uncle Thomas in the manor of Bentley Pauncefoot, and the descent of Middleton is identical with that of Bentley Pauncefoot until about 1813. (fn. 143) The manorial rights of Middleton seem now to have lapsed, but the name survives at Middletonhall Farm, near the King's Norton boundary.


The church of ST. LAWRENCE consists of a chancel 35½ ft. by 20½ ft., nave 51½ ft. by 23 ft., north and south aisles, south porch, and west tower 15½ ft. by 15ft. These measurements are all internal. The earliest part of the existing building is the north doorway, of about 1170, which with two carved heads, inserted in the south face of the tower, formed part of a 12th-century church.

Of the building which succeeded this there are ample remains in the complete 13th-century chancel, the south aisle added at the end of that century and the lower stage of the tower. In the 15th century the upper portion of the tower was rebuilt and at some later date the south arcade of the nave, perhaps owing to the failure of the walls. The north aisle with its arcade is a modern addition.

The east window of the chancel consists of three grouped lancets, with moulded heads and shafted jambs, inclosed by an outer arch having shafted jambs and a moulded label. In the north wall are three groups of three lancets, each lancet having shafts to the jambs, with moulded capitals and arches, and outside these a blank half-arch. Each group is inclosed under a segmental pointed arch springing from circular shafts. In the south wall are two similar sets of lancets, and a third containing a lancet light without shafts. The north aisle of the nave, with the arcade of four bays, is modern work in the style of the 14th century. The south arcade has also four bays, with octagonal columns, all of poor design.

The round-headed north door dates from about 1170 and has been reset in the modern aisle wall. The inner of the two orders has cheveron ornament and the outer a row of beak-heads. The jamb shafts are masked by cheveron work. The south aisle dates from late in the 13th century. The east window has three lights with intersecting mullions in the head, and in the south wall are three windows, and one at the west end, of similar type but of two lights each. At the south-east is a contemporary trefoiled piscina, grooved for a shelf. The south door is pointed with large crowned half-figure stops to the moulded label.

The porch is of good 15th-century woodwork on a stone base. The sides are panelled, the wall-plates embattled, and the roof has a braced tiebeam with moulded collars and wind-braces. On the wall above the doorway are traces of the position of a previous porch.

The tower arch is of three orders, springing from chamfered abaci, continued on as a moulded stringcourse. The first and part of the second stage of the tower are of 13th-century date, though the greater part of the west wall has been rebuilt. In the north and south walls are two-light windows, with a stair at the south-east angle and a west door. In the south wall is a wide-arched doorway now blocked. The internal fittings of the church are modern, with the exception of some 15th-century carved woodwork, from a screen, re-used in the pulpit, and a bench end. On the south chancel wall is a monument to John Hinckley, rector, 1660–95, and his two wives, and on the opposite wall another to Isabella wife of Stanford Wolferstan, minister of Wootton Wawen.

On the exterior there are traces of a building against the south chancel wall, opening from the south aisle by an arch, of which the northern springing remains. There are also traces of the bonding of the eastern wall; and, as this chamber must have been contemporary with the chancel, it proves the existence of an earlier south aisle, which, at the end of the 13th century, was replaced by the present one. The south chancel door has a flattened trefoiled head with the moulding continued on the jambs. The roofs are of steep pitch and covered externally with tiles.

The exterior of the tower is in three stages, the upper of grey, the lower two of red sandstone. On each side of the west door is a niche, about 6 ft. high, with a pointed head. In the second stage on the north and south faces are plain lights with carved animal heads, apparently of the 12th century, inserted on either side. The upper stage has two-light belfry windows and an embattled parapet, on the west side of which a diminutive portcullis is cut in relief.

Northfield Church: The West Tower

In the north chancel wall, below the third group of lancets, is a low-side window with a square external head, and in the south wall the corresponding lancet with a low sill would seem to have communicated with the chamber which stood on that side.

There is a ring of six bells, by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston, dated 1730. The inscriptions are famous as giving the history of the negotiations for the casting, as follows: (1) 'We now are six tho' once but five'; (2) 'and against our casting some did strive'; (3) 'but when a day for meeting there was fixt'; (4) 'apeared but nine against twenty six,' and so on.

The plate includes an old cup and cover for paten of later Elizabethan work, also a flagon and salver on feet, the gift of the Rev. H. Soley, a former rector, and a handsome modern silver-gilt cup with jewelled stem and a paten to match presented in memory of the Rev. H. Clarke.

The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1560 to 1654; (ii) baptisms 1654 to 1741, burials 1654 to 1678, marriages 1654 to 1741; (iii) burials 1678 to 1757; (iv) baptisms 1742 to 1758, marriages 1742 to 1754; (v) marriages 1754 to 1812; (vi) baptisms and burials 1758 to 1809; (vii) baptisms and burials 1810 to 1812.


The church of Northfield was granted to the priory of Dudley by Gervase Paynel when he founded the house about 1160, (fn. 144) and from that time until the Dissolution was held by the prior and convent, (fn. 145) who reserved to themselves a pension from it. (fn. 146) In 1294 a dispute arose between Bishop Giffard and the priory respecting the church (fn. 147); it is not clear what was the cause, but it seems probable that the bishop had infringed the right of the convent in the presentation. Again in 1342 the Prior and monks of Dudley were required by the Bishop of Worcester to show their right to receive a pension from Northfield Church. (fn. 148)

When the priory was dissolved, its rights in the church became vested in the Crown, and on 26 March 1541 Henry VIII granted to Sir John Dudley, afterwards Duke of Northumberland, a pension of 6s. 8d. issuing from it with all other possessions of the priory in Northfield, (fn. 149) this grant apparently including the advowson. When Northumberland was attainted and executed in 1553 his property came into the hands of the Crown. In 1554 the tithes of Northfield were granted to Edward Sutton Lord Dudley, (fn. 150) who seems to have also held the advowson, which was dealt with by his trustees in 1578–9 and in 1579–80. (fn. 151) In 1587 the queen presented to the living. (fn. 152) In 1595, however, Edward Sutton, the next Lord Dudley, conveyed the advowson with the yearly rent issuing from the rectory to Richard Hammett. (fn. 153) On 14 November 1608 Richard and Edward Hammett received from the Crown a grant of a yearly rent of £4 from the rectory and church. (fn. 154) In 1611 the reversion of the tithes of Northfield, after the expiry of the estate of Edward Lord Dudley, was granted to George Baggeley of Dudley, yeoman. (fn. 155)

On 11 July 1615 the advowson of Northfield was granted by the king to Sir Charles Montagu and Edward Sawyer of London, gentleman. (fn. 156) It had passed before 1621 to Edward Skinner, who died seised of it in 1631, leaving a son and heir Richard, (fn. 157) but in 1639 one Phineas White of the city of Coventry is said to have presented to the living by the grant of Thomas Jervoise of Herriard, then lord of the manor. (fn. 158) Jervoise himself presented in 1660, but in 1661 and 1663 the king is said to have presented, in the first case 'to corroborate title.' (fn. 159) In 1671 the advowson was dealt with by Edward Lord Ward of Birmingham, (fn. 160) the successor of Lord Dudley, but from 1695 until 1799 the presentations were made by the Jervoise family. (fn. 161) After that date Jervoise Clarke Jervoise seems to have sold the advowson to George Fenwick of Sunderland, who presented in 1805, (fn. 162) and in whose family it remained at any rate until 1877. (fn. 163) In the following year the advowson passed to Stephen Barker, (fn. 164) who sold or gave it in 1887–8 to Keble College, Oxford, the present patron. (fn. 165)

Selly Oak was constituted a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1862. (fn. 166) The living is a vicarage, in the gift of the Bishop of Birmingham and trustees. The church of St. Mary, consecrated in 1861, is a building in 14th-century style, consisting of chancel, nave, transepts and tower with spire.

Selly Hill, now a separate ecclesiastical parish, was formed in 1892 from Northfield. (fn. 167) The vicarage is in the gift of trustees. The church of St. Stephen, consecrated in 1871, consists of chancel, nave, vestry, organ chamber and tower with spire.

St. Michael's, Bartley Green, is a chapel of ease to Northfield Church, and there is a small mission chapel at West Heath. The mission church of St. Wulstan is a chapel of ease to St. Mary, Selly Oak.

There are Wesleyan chapels at Northfield and California and at Selly Oak, Primitive Methodist chapels at Woodgate and Selly Oak, a Friends' meetinghouse and other Nonconformist places of worship at Selly Oak, and a Roman Catholic chapel under the invocation of St. Edward the Confessor at Selly Oak.


The Educational Charities, founded by the wills of Dr. William Worth, archdeacon of Worcester and rector of this parish, dated in 1742, and of the Rev. Thomas Lockey Soley, proved in 1779, and of Thomas Lloyd, are represented by £433 6s. 8d. consols with the official trustees. The annual dividends, amounting to £11 18s. 4d., are carried to the credit of the Northfield schools.

Eleemosynary Charities.

— In 1662 John Norton— as stated in the table of benefactions—by deed charged his lands called Portlands with an annuity of 24s. for the poor. From the same table it appears that John Field charged an estate called Good-rest Farm with 40s. a year for the poor; also that Henry Hinkley, by his will, gave eight half-crowns for eight poor people and 8s. to provide them with a dinner on 25 May yearly, if on a Sunday, or on the next Sunday after, to be paid out of an estate called Nether Holbach. The Parliamentary Returns of 1786 mention that Thomas Lloyd gave 2s. 6d. for the poor, and that William Squire, by his will, gave 20s. a year for the poor of this parish (see under Droitwich St. Nicholas).

The official trustees also hold a sum of £12 7s. 6d. consols in respect of — Middlemore's charity, producing 6s. 8d. a year.

The income of these charities, amounting together to £6 1s. 2d., is applied as to £1 10s. 3d. among ten poor widows of Northfield, the same amount to ten poor widows of Bartley Green, and the remainder among the poor of Bournbrook, Selly Oak and Ten Acres.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. V.C.H. Worcs. i, 212. Selly Cross on the highway leading to Birmingham is referred to in 1506 (Add. Chart. 15269).
  • 3. Mr. A. E. Everitt, in Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1871, p. 8.
  • 4. Jeayes, Lyttelton Chart. no. 145.
  • 5. Add. Chart. 15263, 15269.
  • 6. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.).
  • 7. Cal. Inq. p.m. 1–19 Edw. I, 14, 493.
  • 8. V.C.H. Worcs. i, 316a.
  • 9. F. S. Pearson, LL.B., in Trans. Arch. Sect, Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1894, p. 31.
  • 10. Chan. Inq. p.m. 16 Edw. II, no. 72.
  • 11. Cal. Inq. p.m. 10–20 Edw. II, 256.
  • 12. Chan. Inq. p.m. 12 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 40.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1338–40, p. 24.
  • 14. Ibid. 312.
  • 15. Burke, Extinct Peerage.
  • 16. Cal. Pat. 1377–81, p. 423; 1381–5, pp. 70, 71, 86, 590.
  • 17. Chan. Inq. p.m. 9 Ric. II, no. 4.
  • 18. Ibid.
  • 19. Feet of F. Div. Co. Trin. 10 Ric. II.
  • 20. Chan. Inq. p.m. 8 Hen. IV, no. 64.
  • 21. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 5 Hen. V, no. 65.
  • 22. Ibid. 68.
  • 23. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 7 Hen. V, no. 3; Jeayes, Lyttelton Chart. no. 287. Sir Hugh Burnell released all his right in these two thirds to Lady Beauchamp (ibid. no. 281, 288).
  • 24. Chan. Inq. p.m. 8 Hen. V, no. 116.
  • 25. Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 19, no. 6–8.
  • 26. Feud. Aids, v, 330.
  • 27. Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 19, no. 6–8.
  • 28. Ibid.
  • 29. Ibid. James Butler afterwards seized the manor contrary to the award, but Berkeley obtained redress about 1452 (ibid.).
  • 30. Chan. Inq. p.m. 4 Edw. IV, no. 29.
  • 31. Rolls of Parl. vi, 275–6.
  • 32. Pat. 1 Hen. VII, pt. ii.
  • 33. Ibid. pt. iii.
  • 34. Ibid. 4 Hen. VII, pt. i.
  • 35. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, 125.
  • 36. Rolls of Parl. vi, 483–4.
  • 37. Ibid. 483–4, 487.
  • 38. Stat. 11 Hen. VII, cap. 47; see also cap. 50.
  • 39. Rolls of Parl. vi, 552–4. In 1501 Richard petitioned the king for licence to purchase the manor of Lord Dudley, but never seems to have taken advantage of the permission (ibid.; Stat. 19 Hen. VII, cap. 38).
  • 40. Stat. 14 & 15 Hen. VIII, cap. 21, proviso 35.
  • 41. Feet of F. Worcs. Trin. 23 Hen. VIII; Recov. R. East. 23 Hen. VIII, rot. 116.
  • 42. L. and P. Hen. VIII, v, 672; Pearson, in Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1896, p. 40.
  • 43. Star Chamb. Proc. Hen. VIII, bdle. 17, no. 79. In 1536–7 Richard Jervoise was confirmed in his possession of the manor by John son of Richard Berkeley (Close, 28 Hen. VIII, pt. ii, no. 18).
  • 44. See Star Chamb. Proc. Hen. VIII, bdle. 23, no. 78.
  • 45. In 1577 John Churchman and Margaret his wife conveyed or claimed to convey the manor of Northfield and Weoley to Richard Middlemore (Feet of F. Div. Co. Trin. 19 Eliz.).
  • 46. Star Chamb. Proc. Hen. VIII, bdle. 17, no. 79; Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdle. 104, no. 54; bdle. 158, no. 24.
  • 47. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxviii, 50; Recov. R. Mich. 9 Jas. I, rot. 119; Feet of F. Div. Co. East. 13 Chas. I; Trin. 22 Chas. I; Worcs. Hil. 24 Chas. I; Div. Co. Mich. 1657; Recov. R. Hil. 1657, rot. 23; East. 29 Geo. III, rot. 196. A pedigree of this family is given in Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1896, p. 40.
  • 48. Pearson, in Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1902, p. 57.
  • 49. Ibid.
  • 50. Ibid. 58.
  • 51. Cal. Pat. 1258–66, p. 307.
  • 52. Cal. Inq. p.m. 10–20 Edw. II, 256.
  • 53. Chan. Inq. p.m. 12 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 40.
  • 54. Ibid. 4 Edw. IV, no. 29.
  • 55. Reg. of the Guild of Knowle, 65.
  • 56. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdle. 104, no. 54.
  • 57. Pearson, in Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1902, pp. 59, 60.
  • 58. Ibid. pp. 58–9.
  • 59. Worcs. Inq. p.m. (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), pt. i, 17.
  • 60. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), ii, 284.
  • 61. Cal. Close, 1272–9, p. 30.
  • 62. Ibid. 137.
  • 63. Worcs. Inq. p.m. (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), pt. i, 36.
  • 64. Chan. Inq. p.m. 9 Ric. II, no. 4.
  • 65. Pearson, in Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1894, p. 41.
  • 66. Star Chamb. Proc. Hen. VIII, bdle. 23, no. 78.
  • 67. Pearson, in Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1894, p. 39.
  • 68. Ibid.
  • 69. Worcs. Inq. p.m. (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), pt. i, 16–17; Chan. Inq. p.m. 12 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 40.
  • 70. Chan. Inq. p.m. 9 Ric. II, no. 4.
  • 71. Star Chamb. Proc. Hen. VIII, bdle. 17, no. 79.
  • 72. Recov. R. East. 29 Geo. III, rot. 196.
  • 73. Shelley occurs in 1546 (Chan. Inq. p.m. [Ser. 2], lxxv, 94).
  • 74. V.C.H. Worcs. i, 315b.
  • 75. Ibid. 316a. The reading of the words 'ep'o Li' as Bishop of Lichfield is only a rather remote possibility. See V.C.H. Worcs. i, 316, note 1.
  • 76. Ibid. 316b.
  • 77. Cal. Inq. p.m. 1–19 Edw. I, 495; 10–20 Edw. II, 257; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lxxv, 94.
  • 78. Red Bk. of Exch. (Rolls Ser.), 269.
  • 79. Liber Swapham (Cartul. of Peterborough in custody of D. and C. of Peterborough), fol. 194b.
  • 80. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 41, 44. A Richard de Sulley occurs in 1221 (Select Pleas of the Crown [Selden Soc.], i, 87).
  • 81. Cal. Pat. 1247–58, p. 274. A Peter de Selle occurs in the Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 46, as holding in Himley, Staffs.
  • 82. Lay Subs. R. 1280 (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), 17.
  • 83. Assize R. 1026, m. 44 d.
  • 84. Anct. D. (P.R.O.), A 4793.
  • 85. Cal. Inq. p.m. 1–19 Edw. I, 495.
  • 86. Feet of F. Worcs. 13 Edw. II, no. 4.
  • 87. Cal. Pat. 1327–30, p. 279.
  • 88. Ibid. 1330–4, p. 126.
  • 89. Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), ii, 123.
  • 90. De Banco R. 411, m. 143d.
  • 91. Harl. Soc. Publ. xliii, 55.
  • 92. See V.C.H. Northants, ii, 464.
  • 93. Feet of F. Worcs. 4 Hen. IV, no. 6.
  • 94. Harl. Soc. Publ. xxvii, 9.
  • 95. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xix, 79. The visitation mentioned above does not agree with this inquisition.
  • 96. Add. Chart. 15268.
  • 97. De Banco R. 984, m. 116 d.
  • 98. Add. Chart. 15270. Gower had held land in Selly in 1506 (ibid. 15269).
  • 99. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lxxv, 94.
  • 100. Feet of F. Worcs. Mich. 33 & 34 Eliz.; Visit. of Worcs. 1569 (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 61; Feet of F. Worcs. Mich. 39 & 40 Eliz.
  • 101. Feet of F. Worcs. Mich. 43 & 44 Eliz.; Visit. of Worcs. 1569 (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 61; Recov. R. D. Enr. East. 44 Eliz. m. 20.
  • 102. Ibid. Mich. 6 Geo. I, m. 11.
  • 103. Extract from a local newspaper in the Prattinton Coll.
  • 104. Pearson, in Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1896, p. 43.
  • 105. Cal. Inq. p.m. 1–19 Edw. I, 495; Chan. Inq. p.m. 16 Edw. II, no. 72.
  • 106. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), from Rev. Denham Cookes' Evidences, 1813, no. 1.
  • 107. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. v, 203–4.
  • 108. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), from Rev. Denham Cookes' Evidences, 1813, no. 1.
  • 109. Worcs. Inq. p.m. (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), pt. i, 16.
  • 110. Ibid. 37.
  • 111. Ibid. 58.
  • 112. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), from Rev. Denham Cookes' Evidences, 1813, no. 2.
  • 113. Ibid. no. 3.
  • 114. Chan. Inq. p.m. 16 Edw. II, no. 72.
  • 115. Feet of F. Worcs. 19 Edw. II, no. 22.
  • 116. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), from Rev. Denham Cookes' Evidences, 1813, no. 5.
  • 117. Ibid. no. 6.
  • 118. Ibid. no. 11.
  • 119. Ibid. no. 12.
  • 120. Ibid. no. 10.
  • 121. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), from John Phillips' Evidences, 1814, no. 19.
  • 122. Ibid. from Rev. Denham Cookes' Evidences, no. 10.
  • 123. Ibid. 1813, no. 10, 11.
  • 124. Pearson, in Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1894, pp. 32–3.
  • 125. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), from Rev. Denham Cookes' Evidences, 1813, no. 7.
  • 126. a Ibid. John Phillips' Evidences, 1814, no. 8.
  • 127. Ibid. Rev. Denham Cookes' Evidences, 1813, no. 12.
  • 128. Ibid. no. 7.
  • 129. Ibid. no. 14, 17.
  • 130. Ibid. no. 9; John Phillips' Evidences, 1814, no. 7, 21.
  • 131. Ibid. John Phillips' Evidences, 1814, no. 21, 7.
  • 132. Ibid. no. 13.
  • 133. Ibid. no. 6.
  • 134. Visit. of Worcs. 1569 (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 97.
  • 135. Feet of F. Worcs. Mich. 18 Hen. VIII.
  • 136. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), from John Phillips' Evidences, 1814, no. 5. In 1545 Rose Clayton was dealing with half the manor of Middleton (Recov. R. East. 37 Hen. VIII, rot. 123).
  • 137. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), John Phillips' Evidences, 1814, no. 43.
  • 138. Feet of F. Worcs. Trin. 38 Eliz.; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclxxxi, 161.
  • 139. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), John Phillips' Evidences, 1814, no. 43.
  • 140. Ibid. In the Prattinton Collection occurs a 'Scedull, Inventory or Roule of Deeds, &c., delivered by Edward Morgan the father and Edward Morgan the son concerning their lands in Worcester to the hands custody and possession of Henry Cookes.'
  • 141. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclxxxi, 161; Metcalfe, Visit. of Worcs. 1682–3, p. 36.
  • 142. a G.E.C. Complete Baronetage, iii, 301.
  • 143. Recov. R. East. 17 Geo. II, rot. 324; Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 29 Geo. III; Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), from Rev. Denham Cookes' Evidences.
  • 144. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. v, 83.
  • 145. Reg. G. Giffard (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), 65, 494; Cal. Pat. 1345–8, p. 144.
  • 146. Of 6 marks in 1291 (Pope Nich. Tax. [Rec. Com.], 217b), and in 1342 (Worc. Epis. Reg. Bransford, bk. i [3], fol. 56), but 46s. in 1535 (Valor Eccl. [Rec. Com.], iii, 104).
  • 147. Reg. G. Giffard (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), 441.
  • 148. Worc. Epis. Reg. Bransford, bk. i (3), fol. 56; see also Sede Vacante Reg. (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), 271.
  • 149. Pat. 32 Hen. VIII, pt. vi, m. 7; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, g. 678 (47).
  • 150. Pat. 1 & 2 Phil. and Mary, pt. ii.
  • 151. Ibid. 21 Eliz. pt. vi; Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 22 Eliz.
  • 152. Nash, Hist. of Worcs. ii, 192.
  • 153. Feet of F. Worcs. Mich. 37 & 38 Eliz.
  • 154. Pat. 6 Jas. I, pt. xxiii, no. 14.
  • 155. Ibid. 8 Jas. I, pt. xlii, no. 10.
  • 156. Ibid. 13 Jas. I, pt. xv, no. 9.
  • 157. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccclxxxii, 116.
  • 158. Nash, op. cit. ii, 192; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 159. Ibid.
  • 160. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 23 Chas. II.
  • 161. See Nash, op. cit. ii, 192; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 162. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 163. Trans. Arch. Sect. Birm. and Midl. Inst. 1877, p. 4.
  • 164. Kelly, Dir. of Birmingham, 1878.
  • 165. Clergy Lists.
  • 166. Lond. Gaz. 10 June 1862, p. 2969.
  • 167. Census of Engl. and Wales, Worc. 1901, p. 7.