Parishes: Broadwas

Pages 292-297

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

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In this section


Bradewesse (viii cent.); Bradewasse (x cent.); Bradewesham (xi cent.); Bradewa, Bradewasse (xii cent.); Bradwas, Bradwes (xvii cent.); Bredweys (xviii cent.).

Broadwas is a parish in the west of Worcestershire on the left bank of the River Teme, which forms its southern and part of its western boundary. It is watered, also, by a small tributary of the Teme, and covers 1,108 acres, much of the land near the river being liable to floods. The southern part of the parish lies in the valley of the Teme, but the rest is hilly, reaching a height of 200 ft. above the ordnance datum to the north of the village and on the northern boundary. The greater part of the parish consists of rich pasture land, 683 acres being laid down in permanent grass. Only 9½ acres are covered by woodland, distributed for the most part in small copses, but the fields are well planted with timber; 312 acres are arable land, (fn. 1) the chief crops being wheat, beans and hops. The parish was at one time famous for its cider. The soil is loam and marl with gravel and marl subsoil.

The village is picturesque and lies chiefly on the north and south of the main road from Worcester to Bromyard, the land becoming higher and more irregular as the hills on the west are approached. The church lies in a wooded hollow to the south-west of the village close to the River Teme.

On the north side of the village is a half-timber house known as 'The Butts.' It consists of a centre and two larger wings projecting irregularly from the front. The chimney stacks are of ashlar work and each is surmounted by twin shafts of brick. The curved beams springing from the ground to the gable, as well as the roof beams in the attic, render it very probable that the centre and part of the northern wing were originally an open hall of 15th-century date or even earlier, the chimney stacks being 17th-century additions.

In 1884 the part of Broadwas lying south of the River Teme was, by order of the Local Government Board, amalgamated with Leigh, and the part of Alfrick to the north of the Teme was united to Broadwas. At the same time part of Broadwas was transferred to Cotheridge. (fn. 2)

Former place-names in this parish include Foxbaece (viii cent.), which had become Foxbatch in the 18th century (fn. 3); Rugghey Glebe and Rugg Hill (fn. 4) (xviii cent.). Other place-names found in the 18th century are Brach, Hopyards and Noyts, Cilliers, Grumspleck and Taberness. (fn. 5)

The 'Butts,' Broadwas


Offa, King of the Mercians, granted land at BROADWAS to the monks of Worcester about 786. (fn. 6) It was at an early date annexed to the manor of Hallow, and, though it is not mentioned by name in the charter, it was probably freed, like Hallow, from all secular services in 816 by King Coenwulf. (fn. 7) The monks of Worcester held Broadwas at the time of the Domesday Survey, (fn. 8) and it was confirmed to them in 1148 by Simon Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 9) In 1240 the demesne included a court with an orchard and vineyard, (fn. 10) 3 carucates of land with the land of Doddenham, a meadow, grove, fulling-mill and corn-mill. (fn. 11)

The prior obtained a grant of free warren in the manor in 1256. (fn. 12) From that time until the dissolution of the monastery the manor remained with the priory. Its value at the Dissolution was £35 18s. 10½d. yearly. (fn. 13) Henry VIII granted it in 1542, with other possessions of the priory, to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester. (fn. 14) This grant was confirmed by James I, (fn. 15) but under the Commonwealth the manor was sold by the Parliamentary Trustees in 1650 to Henry Pitt. (fn. 16) In the previous year the farm-house of the manor had been sold to Edmund Pitt. (fn. 17) The manor was then charged with a yearly payment of £20 towards the maintenance of a free grammar school in the city of Worcester. (fn. 18) It was restored to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester on the accession of Charles II, William and Mary confirming to them the manor and manorial rights in 1692, (fn. 19) and they have continued to hold the manor until the present day.

Court baron and court leet for the manor were still held in the 18th century. (fn. 20)

About 1561 the Dean and Chapter leased the site of the manor to John Cratford and his daughters Elizabeth and Joan for £8 14s. 4d., and the third and tenth sheaf of corn growing on the arable land, these sheaves being afterwards commuted for £2 10s. 10d. (fn. 21) After John's death his daughter Joan wife of William Doughtie instituted proceedings to recover the property, which had been seized by her kinsman John Cratford, son of Humphrey Cratford of Croome, co. Worcester, and by her sister Elizabeth wife of Richard Whitney. It does not appear whether she was successful, but in 1636 Charles Cratford obtained from the dean and chapter a lease of the farm of the manor. (fn. 22) Cratford was indicted about 1618–19 for an alleged tampering with a book containing the assessment of lands in the parish and the rules and customs to guide the parishioners. He was then said to have come into the parish six years previously. (fn. 23) The prior and monks of Worcester acquired several pieces of land and rents in the parish during the 13th century. John de la Pulle sold to the prior and monks 'Lutle forlonge with a messuage above Holeweie,' for which he paid yearly 4d. (fn. 24) The deed of sale is undated, but it was probably before 1240, as the register of the priory of that date records the fact that Brother Ralph had bought one messuage from John de la Pulle. (fn. 25) Hugh the son of Siward, with the consent of Cecily his wife, released to the prior all his lands in Broadwas, in return for which the prior gave him 30 marks of silver. (fn. 26) The prior also acquired land of Adam de Ancredham.

Plan of Broadwas Church

Richard Habington, grandfather of Thomas Habington, the Worcestershire historian, owned property in Broadwas about which there were Chancery proceedings in the middle of the 16th century. (fn. 27) Nash, writing at the end of the 18th century, deplored the state of the farms at Broadwas in spite of the good quality of the soil, 'but the estates,' he says, 'are held by lives under the church, and the fields belonging to the several farms very much dispersed, they are not so much improved as they might be.' (fn. 28)

There were two mills in the manor of Hallow with Broadwas in 1086, (fn. 29) and in 1240 the Prior of Worcester had two mills at Broadwas, one being a corn-mill and the other a fulling-mill. (fn. 30)

Whenever the tenants of the manors of Grimley, Hallow and Henwick were prevented from grinding corn at their own mills they were obliged to do it at Broadwas. If the corn was carried elsewhere the villein who carried it was liable to the forfeiture of his horse to the prior and of the meal to the steward of the manor. In the use of the mili for grinding corn the prior had the precedence, next to him the parson and the heirs of one Alan; after them the lord of Suckley, the dam of the mill extending to his land. Malt ground at the mill and brewed for private use paid no toll; but if the beer was sold (whether it was by the parson, a freeman, or any other person permitted to use the mill) a toll was then payable of 1d. or 4 gallons of beer, double toll being due from a villein. Whenever a millstone was fetched from Worcester, all the freemen and villeins (the parson excepted) were bound to attend the steward's summons, and help in turn with men and oxen, the cart, attended by one man, with two oxen to draw it, being furnished by the prior. (fn. 31) There was a mill existing in the parish in 1776. (fn. 32)


The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE consists of a chancel 25 ft. by 18½ ft., a nave 70½ ft. by 20½ ft. wide (the western end being occupied by the framing of a square wooden tower), and a south chapel 26 ft. by 13 ft. These measurements are all internal.

The earliest church of which traces now remain dates from c. 1170 and was an aisleless building with a chancel and nave extending as far west as the present tower. Of this church part of the north and south nave walls with the south door remain, and the chancel is of the same date, though much repaired and refaced. The western part of the nave inclosing the tower is probably of the 13th century. The south chapel was added in the first half of the 14th century. The deed for the foundation in 1344 is quoted by Prattinton, (fn. 33) and refers to the newly-erected chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary in St. Mary Magdalene's Church at Broadwas. A porch to the south door was built at the same time as the chapel, but a line of corbelling is all that is now left. The chancel arch was probably removed in the 16th century, and the north nave wall, having been thrust out of the perpendicular, was partially rebuilt with the easternmost window at the same time. The walling inclosing the base of the present tower is of doubtful date, but the three lancet lights in the present west wall probably belong to the 13th century. The present woodwork of the tower is modern, but the wood gable and some balusters with part of the west gallery are of 16th and 17th-century date. The existing south porch is modern.

Broadwas Church from the South-east

The modern east window of the chancel is of four lights in 14th-century style. On either side of the altar is some 17th-century panelling. In the north wall are two late 12th-century lights with round rear arches and stepped sills. One similar window occupies the south side with a two-light window with modern tracery to the west of it. The jambs are probably of the 15th century. In the same wall is a trefoiled piscina, probably contemporary with the chancel, and to the west of it a small projection, perhaps a portion of a destroyed sedile.

The easternmost window in the north nave wall is a 16th-century two-light window with a square head, the second is an original lancet with a round rear arch. The north door has chamfered jambs and a round head; the jambs are splayed and appear to have been widened. West of this door is another lancet window, and at the point where the wood framework of the tower begins is a third which has perhaps been rebuilt.

The tower framework occupies the west end of the church, leaving a vestry in the middle and a small gallery above. In the west wall are three small lancets of 13th-century date.

The south chapel opens into the chancel by an arcade of two bays, with a pier of four engaged shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the east wall are two trefoil-headed windows, the labels being cut away on the wall above the altar. Immediately above is a circular traceried window and below a narrow course where the altar slab tailed into the wall. In the south wall are two traceried two-light windows, and on the west is a fireplace of uncertain date, though later than the original chapel wall. The pointed south door is of three moulded orders with early foliated capitals and two shafts on each side. It is set in a gabled projection covered by a modern wood porch. To the west of the south doorway is a two-light 15th-century window, and there is an original lancet immediately to the east of the commencement of the tower frame-work.

The font, of uncertain date, has a plain octagonal bowl and a round stem with scallops at the top.

In the north-east corner of the nave is an octagonal wood pulpit, the two panels to each face having good 17th-century carving. Above the panels is inscribed 'Anno Dom 1632, William Noxon, Roger Prince, Church Warden.' On the tester above the pulpit is 'Blessed are they that heare the word of God and keepe it.'

On the floor of the chancel are sets of 16th-century tiles in patterns of fours and sixes, with Deo gratias, the arms of Berkeley, and other devices. One set of four are border tiles. On another set is inscribed 'Adjuva nos deus salutaris noster et propter gloriam nominis tui delibera nos,' with the shields of Berkeley, John Nailheart and Robert Eliot.

At the north-west end of the nave are some 17th-century pews, one bearing the letters c c on a shield and probably referring to the Cratford family, to whom there is an early 17th-century tomb slab. There are remains of other tomb slabs at the west end, including one dated 1610.

The external roofs of nave and chancel are continuous, of a steep pitch and tiled; the south chapel has also a steep gable roof of remarkable height. The bell tower is weather-boarded. The buttresses of the chapel have gabled weatherings with tracery on the face.

Before 1896 there were four bells, three by John Rudhall and the old bell described below. In that year one of the Rudhall bells was recast and a treble added. Thus at present the bells are five in number: the first and third cast in 1822 and 1820 respectively by John Rudhall, the second and fourth by Charles Carr of Smethwick, 1896, and the ancient tenor, inscribed '✠ IOHANNIS: PRECE: DVLCE: SONET: ET: AMENE,' which was cast at Gloucester about 1350, probably by 'Master John of Gloucester.' (fn. 34)

The plate consists of a cover paten of 1571, a plated cup, paten and flagon and a pewter flagon.

The registers (fn. 35) before 1812 are as follows: (i) mixed entries 1676 to 1755; (ii) baptisms and burials 1755 to 1812; (iii) marriages 1754 to 1811.


The advowson of the church of Broadwas belonged to the Prior and convent of Worcester until the dissolution of the monasteries. (fn. 36) Henry VIII granted it, with the manor, in 1542 to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester. (fn. 37) This was confirmed by James I, (fn. 38) and the dean and chapter hold the patronage at the present day.

The church of Broadwas was free, 'by authority of St. Wulfstan,' from all jurisdiction of the archdeacon and rural dean, the parson being archdeacon of his parish and receiving all the emoluments of the archdeaconry (fn. 39) and one-fifth of the Whitsun farthings from the parish. He also received a part of the great tithes, all the small tithes, mortuaries and the Paschal eggs, the latter being collected by the steward of the prior. Broadwas was returned in the archdeaconry of Worcester in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, but made no payments to the archdeacon. (fn. 40)

In 1628 there was a dispute between two ministers, Richard Potter and Thomas Archbold, both desiring to be presented to the rectory of Broadwas. The latter appealed to the king, who wrote to the dean telling him to signify to the bishop the king's pleasure for Archbold's institution. (fn. 41) The parish contributed one 'cronnum,' or half quarter of grain, to St. Wulfstan's alms, which were distributed to the poor from the gate of the priory on St. Wulfstan's Day, and 18d. to St. Peter's pence. (fn. 42)

In 1450 Bishop Carpenter granted an indulgence to any who should give or assign any property to the fabric, lights, bells, &c., in the parish church of Broadwas. (fn. 43)

In 1340 licence was granted to John de Broadwas, clerk, to give 120 acres in Cotheridge for the maintenance of a chaplain to celebrate divine service daily in the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Broadwas, for the good estate of the king, Queen Philippa, William de Kyldesby, Master John de Broadwas, Peter de Grete, Margery Drew of Housele and John and William her sons, while living, and for their souls when dead. (fn. 44) Three years later John de Broadwas gave further portions of land with a messuage in Broadwas to two chaplains for the same purpose. (fn. 45) John reserved to himself the right of presentation, and it was arranged that after his death the Prior of Worcester should present, and if he did not appoint for two months the right should afterwards be in the bishop's hands. The priests were to find wax, &c., and on All Souls' Day 5s. (or bread or corn to that amount) to be distributed to the poor inhabitants of the parish. Having given to the first two priests, on their appointment to the chantry, 10 marks with all the growing crops and produce of the lands, John de Broadwas required that each priest, on giving up the chantry, should leave for his successor '8 proper oxen, a wain, a cart, a plough and a harrow, and various household requisites, the best of which he should have on leaving the chantry besides a half of all his other goods.' He also required the two chaplains to reside and spend the profits of the lands in their manse at Broadwas, recite their benefactions and take an oath to observe all the conditions. (fn. 46) John de Broadwas made the first presentation (fn. 47) in 1344, but five years later the advowson had passed into the hands of the Prior of Worcester, (fn. 48) who continued to appoint until 1457, (fn. 49) after which time there is no record of the chantry.


In 1775 the Rev. Henry Roberts, by his will, left £2 yearly to the poor at Christmas. The legacy is represented by £66 13s. 4d. consols with the official trustees, producing £1 13s. 4d. yearly, which is distributed in money doles to about twenty-eight recipients.

In 1797 Sarah Roberts, by her will, gave £5 yearly to the poor, to be distributed on New Year's Day. The legacy is represented by £166 13s. 4d. consols with the official trustees, producing £4 3s. 4d. yearly, which is distributed in money doles to about thirty-two recipients.

In 1892 John Francis Greswolde-Williams, by his will proved at Worcester 12 August, bequeathed £1,000 for the benefit of the poor. The legacy was invested in £1,030 18s. 7d. consols with the official trustees, and the annual dividend, amounting to £25 15s. 4d., was in 1908–9 distributed as to £11 10s. in cash to thirteen recipients, £5 7s. 6d. in orders on tradesmen and £8 17s. 10d. to coal and clothing clubs.

The same testator bequeathed £1,000 for the benefit of the Church of England school. This legacy was invested in £1,030 18s. 7d. consols with the official trustees, producing £25 15s. 4d. yearly.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Census of Engl. and Wales, 1891, ii, 657.
  • 3. Heming, Chartul. (ed. Hearne), 329.
  • 4. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.).
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Birch, Cart. Sax. i, 325; Heming, op. cit. 328.
  • 7. Birch, op. cit. i, 494. In the annals of Worcester Priory a charter of Coenwulf relating to the manor is mentioned (Ann. Mon. [Rolls Ser.], iv, 367).
  • 8. V.C.H. Worcs. i, 295.
  • 9. Thomas, Surv. of Worc. Cathedral, App. no. 18.
  • 10. The tenants in villeinage of the prior at Doddenham did two days' reaping at Broadwas and worked two days a year in the vineyard there (Hale, Reg. Worc. Priory [Camd. Soc.], 21a).
  • 11. Hale, Reg. Worc. Priory (Camd. Soc.), 32a.
  • 12. Cal. Pat. 1354–8, p. 266.
  • 13. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii, 221.
  • 14. Pat. 33 Hen. VIII, pt. v, m. 19.
  • 15. Ibid. 6 Jas. I, pt. xii, no. 2.
  • 16. Close, 1650, pt. xxvii, no. 10.
  • 17. Ibid. pt. xxii, no. 44.
  • 18. Ibid. pt. xxvii, no. 10.
  • 19. Pat. 4 Will. and Mary, pt. i, no. 6.
  • 20. Nash, op. cit. i, 137.
  • 21. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdle. 57, no. 30.
  • 22. Close, 1650, pt. xxii, no. 44.
  • 23. Exch. Dep. East. 19 Jas. I, no. 3. A monument in the church records that Elizabeth wife of Charles Cratford was buried there in 1623 (Habington, Surv. of Worcs. [Worcs. Hist. Soc.], i, 109).
  • 24. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.), Deeds of D. and C. of Worc. no. 112,336.
  • 25. Hale, Reg. Worc. Priory (Camd. Soc.), 33a.
  • 26. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.); Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), iv, 423.
  • 27. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdle. 96, no. 11.
  • 28. Nash, Hist. of Worcs. i, 137.
  • 29. V.C.H. Worcs. i, 295b.
  • 30. Hale, Reg. of Worc. Priory (Camd. Soc.), 32a.
  • 31. Ibid.
  • 32. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.).
  • 33. op. cit. See also below under the advowson.
  • 34. Inform. from Mr. H. B. Walters.
  • 35. Earlier entries for the 17th century will be found among the Bishops' Transcripts.
  • 36. Hale, Reg. of Worc. Priory (Camd. Soc.), 32b; Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), iv, 447, 496; Sede Vac. Reg. (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), Introd. 101.
  • 37. Pat. 33 Hen. VIII, pt. v, m. 19; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, g. 71 (29).
  • 38. Pat. 6 Jas. I, pt. xii, no. 2. In 1561 the presentation was made by William Cratford of Chelmarsh, co. Salop, by grant of the dean and chapter, the former incumbent, 'an unlearned and stubborn priest confined to the County of Hereford,' having been deprived of the living (Nash, op. cit. i, 135).
  • 39. Hale, Reg. of Worc. Priory (Camd. Soc.), 32b. The parson as archdeacon may have held an ecclesiastical court with jurisdiction in criminal, matrimonial and testamentary causes from which these emoluments were perhaps derived (Hale's notes on Reg. of Worc. Priory [Camd. Soc.], p. lxiv).
  • 40. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii, 233.
  • 41. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1628. 9, pp. 60, 95, 382.
  • 42. Hale, Reg. of Worc. Priory (Camd. Soc.), 98a, 107; Introd. p. xciii.
  • 43. Worc. Epis. Reg. Carpenter (1443–76), i, fol. 83 d.
  • 44. Cal. Pat. 1338–40, p. 477.
  • 45. Ibid. 1343–5, pp. 49, 215. In 1405 the question arose whether these lands were free alms belonging to the chantry (De Banco R. 579, m. 389; Prattinton Coll. [Soc. Antiq.]).
  • 46. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.). Nash gives a full transcript of the deed of ordination of the chantry (op. cit. i, 140–3).
  • 47. Nash, op. cit. i, 139.
  • 48. Ibid.
  • 49. Worc. Epis. Reg. Wulstan Bransford (1339–49), i, fol. 82 d.; Brian (1352–61), fol. 41; Wakefield (1375–95), fol. 48 d.; Winchcomb (1395–1401), fol. 9 d.; Carpenter, xxii, fol. 144 d.