Parishes: Norton-juxta-Kempsey

Pages 453-456

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

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Norton-juxta-Kempsey is a small parish containing 1,844 acres of land lying to the north-east of Kempsey. The Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton branch of the Great Western railway meets the Abbots Wood branch of the Midland railway at Norton Junction, where there is a station. The Bristol and Birmingham branch of the Midland railway also passes through the parish, but has no station at Norton. The only high road which passes through Norton is that from Worcester to Pershore.

The village of Norton lies near the railway. Hatfield and Littleworth are districts to the south. To the north-west are Norton Barracks, the dépôt of Regimental District no. 29 (the Worcester Regiment), built in 1876. The village of Norton, which includes a few half-timber houses, stands at a height of 130 ft. to 150 ft. above the ordnance datum, and the land rises slightly north and south. Woodhall, the seat of Mr. Walter Holland, D.L., J.P., stands in wooded grounds commanding views of Malvern and the surrounding hills. The mansion is a modern erection of brick in the Tudor style. An avenue of trees leads from the house northward to the Worcester and Pershore high road. There is a small park with a fish-pond at Norton Hall, the residence of Mr. Francis Joynson, and the districts of Hatfield and Littleworth are well wooded. At Newlands Farm near the barracks are the remains of a moat.

In 1905 Norton-juxta-Kempsey contained 532 acres of arable land and 1,294 acres of permanent grass. (fn. 1) The soil is various, the subsoil Keuper Marl, and the chief crops are barley, beans and wheat. Hatfield in Norton was inclosed in 1840, and 70 acres in Eastfield were inclosed in 1854. (fn. 2)

Cookes Holme was transferred in 1885 from Stoulton to Norton-juxta-Kempsey, and at the same date part of Old Home Farm was transferred from Norton to Whittington. (fn. 3)


NORTON-JUXTA-KEMPSEY has apparently never been looked upon as a separate manor, but has always formed part of the manor of Kempsey. (fn. 4)

The manor of WOODHALL was held of the manor of Kempsey. (fn. 5) Beatrix de Pirton held a hide of land in Norton, in the manor of Kempsey, early in the 13th century. (fn. 6) It was stated in 1220–1 that the ancestors of Reginald de Pirton, son of this Beatrix, had held the manor since the conquest of England. Reginald deduced his claim from his grandmother Beatrix, mother of Beatrix de Pirton, but Boidin, parson of the church of Norton, said that Beatrix, grandmother of Reginald, who held the estate as dower, knowing that it rightfully belonged to the church, restored it to the church as free alms, and Beatrix her daughter confirmed this grant. The jurors had, however, no knowledge of these gifts, and Reginald was adjudged to be the rightful owner. (fn. 7) William de Pirton paid a subsidy at Norton in 1280, (fn. 8) and was still holding the manor in 1299. (fn. 9) Giles son of this William (fn. 10) seems to have assumed the name 'de la Wodehall,' for in 1317–18 'the manor of Norton' was settled upon Giles de la Wodehall and Sybil his wife for their lives, with reversion to Robert de Aston and Katherine his wife and their heirs de se, with contingent remainders to Robert de Pirton and his heirs. (fn. 11) It seems probable that Katherine de Aston was daughter of Giles, and that Robert de Pirton was his brother. In 1346 the manor was held by Henry Wyvill. (fn. 12) Thomas Gower, escheator of Worcestershire in 1419–20, (fn. 13) settled it in 1410 upon himself and his wife Katherine, in whose right he appears to have held it. (fn. 14) She was, according to a pedigree of the Gower family given in the Visitation of Worcestershire, 1569, a daughter of Lord Dudley. (fn. 15) Habington mentions that he has seen in a book of the bishopric of Worcester the Lady Dudley called lady of Woodhall. (fn. 16) Thomas Gower died before 1431, and his widow married John Finch, who is called 'of Woodhall' in 1431. (fn. 17) Thomas left a son Thomas, who married Alice daughter of John Attwood of Northwick and died in 1440, leaving a son Thomas, a minor at the time of his father's death. (fn. 18) John son of Thomas died in 1526–7 seised of the manor of Woodhall. (fn. 19) His son and successor William was Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1549. (fn. 20) He was succeeded by his son John, (fn. 21) who died in 1569. (fn. 22) His son John, who then succeeded to the manor, conveyed it in 1577 to Richard Lygon and others for a settlement on his marriage with Margaret Harewell, a relative of Richard Lygon. (fn. 23) He died in 1620, and was buried at Norton-by-Kempsey. (fn. 24) His son William Gower and his wife Anne, who was the daughter of Sir William Whorwood, (fn. 25) sold the manor of Woodhall to William Stevens in 1628–9. (fn. 26) William seems to have been followed by a son Randall, who died in 1653, (fn. 27) and had been succeeded before 1676 by Thomas Stevens, who conveyed the manor in that year to William Bagnall for a settlement upon Thomas and his heirs. (fn. 28) Thomas died in 1711. (fn. 29)

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

The Woodhall estate had passed before 1868 to Thomas Adams, (fn. 30) and the house was occupied by his widow in 1888 and 1896. It was purchased in 1903 by Mr. Walter Holland, D.L., J.P., the present owner.

The manor of NEWLAND probably originated in land in the manor of Kempsey held by the family 'de Newland.' There was litigation in 1220 between Simon de Newland and Boidin, parson of Kempsey, as to a curtilage and garden in Norton. (fn. 31) William de Newland gave a messuage and a carucate of land in Norton to Walter Cantilupe, Bishop of Worcester (1237–66), (fn. 32) and this property the bishop assigned to the sacristy of Worcester. It was claimed in 1274 by William's brother Robert de Newland, who stated that when his brother made the gift he had been in durance at Colchester. Robert's plea was rejected, and it was found that William was 'in bono statu et extra vincula et extra prisonam ad voluntatem suam propriam.' (fn. 33) Bishop William's grant was confirmed to the sacrist in 1336 by the bishop and by the prior and convent. (fn. 34) The estate seems to have been held of the prior and convent, (fn. 35) and the bishop's confirmation was made in order that the grantee might be quit of suit of court and any other service beyond rent and scutage. (fn. 36) In 1536 the convent was receiving a rent of 69s. 4d. from the demesne lands at Newland. (fn. 37) The manor, with a rent of 16d. for the carriage of four wagon loads of fuel from Newland to the sacristy of the priory, was granted in 1545 to John Bourne, the lessee under the priory. (fn. 38) He died in 1575, and the estate passed to his son Anthony, who sold it in 1577 to Sir Thomas Bromley, kt., Lord Chancellor of England. (fn. 39) He with his son Henry conveyed it in 1587 to trustees for a settlement upon Elizabeth wife of Sir Thomas for life. It may have passed in the same way as Hill Croome from the Bromleys to Lord Coventry, for the Earl of Coventry now holds Newland Farm, but all manorial rights have lapsed. (fn. 40)

William de Marisco about 1182 held half a hide of land in Norton, which he had received from Bishop Simon (1125–50). (fn. 41) The estate was held of the manor of Kempsey, and Joseph de Marisco was the owner early in the 13th century. (fn. 42) In 1232 the bishop attorned Richard de Cumpton and Richard de Alvechurch against Thomas de Marisco and Alice his wife of half a virgate and 12 acres of land in Kempsey. (fn. 43) John de Marisco held it in 1299, (fn. 44) and Habington states that his land was given to the chantry of Kempsey, (fn. 45) but in 1346 William de Marisco held a fifth of a fee in Norton which Joseph de Marisco had formerly held. (fn. 46)


The church of ST. JAMES consists of a chancel 21 ft. by 12 ft., north vestry, nave 50½ ft. by 16½ ft., south aisle 11½ ft. wide, south porch and western tower 7 ft. wide by 9¾ ft. deep. These measurements are all internal.

The church has been a great deal repaired during the past century, and the south aisle, porch and vestry were added in 1875. The oldest portion of the existing church is the 12th-century nave, which appears to have been lengthened in the 13th century. The chancel appears to have been rebuilt in the 14th century, and the tower may have been added late in the same century.

The east window has two lights with modern tracery and mullions. The east wall sets back 6 in. about 5 ft. above the ground outside. In the north wall is a square-headed late 14th-century window of two lights, now opening into the vestry. In the south wall is a similar window of two lights; the jambs, which are of white stone, and the sill and lintel, which are of red sandstone, appear to be old work recut. The chancel arch is pointed and of modern date. The nave is lighted in its north wall by three windows; the first, the stonework of which is modern, is of two lights with a quatrefoil over. The second is apparently of the 12th century, and is the only window of that date left; it is very small and has a round head. The third window is a lancet with a pointed head, and is evidently of 13th-century date. Between the two last is a round-headed doorway covered by two wood doors bolted together. A modern arcade of four bays divides the nave from the aisle, which is lit by three windows in the south wall and one at each end. The round-headed south doorway is of 12th-century design, and the capitals and a few stones of the outer order are old, and evidently belonged to a doorway formerly in the south wall of the nave. The south porch is of timber on stone foundation walls.

A modern doorway in the west wall of the nave admits to the tower, which is unbroken horizontally from ground to parapet. The latter is pierced by quatrefoils and has square pinnacles at the angles, gabled and crocketed. The west window in the ground floor is of two lights with rough heads, apparently recut, and a modern mullion. The chamber above has two unglazed rectangular lights in the west wall and one in the north, all with original red sandstone jambs. The bell-chamber is lighted by windows of two lights under pointed heads.

The roofs are all modern and gabled; that over the chancel is panelled, and the nave and aisle have low pointed barrel ceilings. All the furniture is modern except the 13th-century font, which is octagonal and of irregular form.

In the chancel is a slab to Randall Stevens of Woodhall, who died in 1653, and others to later members of the same family. There are also many wall monuments of the 18th century and later. On the east wall outside is a memorial to William March, who was buried in 1661, and his son William, 1673.

There are three bells: the first by Abel Rudhall, 1716; the second inscribed 'Sancta Anna ora pro nobis' and bearing a stamp of four fleurs de lis set saltirewise in a square; the third is dated 1682 and has a stamp with the maker's initials I. M. for John Martin.

The communion plate consists of a silver cup with a baluster stem, and a cover paten, dated 1677, and stamped with the hall mark of 1675, a paten of 1677, the gift of Bishop Fleetwood, a set of a cup, paten, almsdish and flagon given in 1876, and a pewter flagon of older date.

The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1540 to 1710, burials 1538 to 1710 (with a gap between 1638 and 1652) and marriages 1572 to 1709 with gaps between 1640 and 1653 and 1658 to 1661; (ii) baptisms 1711 to 1812, burials 1711 to 1812 and marriages 1711 to 1754; (iii) a marriage book 1754 to 1812. There are also preserved several old deeds, and the will of Mrs. Stephens, 1668, bequeathing various gifts to the parish.


The church or chapel at Norton-by-Kempsey was dependent upon the church of Kempsey. (fn. 47) In 1269 the inhabitants of Norton complained that Maurice de Tapenhale, vicar of Kempsey, had taken from them baptisms, weddings and churchings which by ancient custom were celebrated at Norton, and it was decided by the bishop's commissioners that the parishioners had such customs, and that mass ought to be celebrated on every Sunday and feast day in the said chapel. (fn. 48) In 1368 further trouble arose between the men of Norton and the rector and vicar of Kempsey as to the rights of their chapel. The inhabitants claimed that their chapel from time immemorial had all rights belonging to a parish church except that of sepulture, and they affirmed that they ought to have a priest there continually to celebrate the services. The rector of Kempsey, however, maintained that services ought to be celebrated there only three days in the week. The bishop again decided in favour of the men of Norton. (fn. 49) In 1556 Bishop Pates granted the parishioners of Norton the right of sepulture. (fn. 50)

The living of Norton-juxta-Kempsey was a perpetual curacy until 1867–8, when it became a vicarage. (fn. 51) The Dean and Chapter of Worcester have always been patrons of this parish.

There is a Wesleyan chapel at Littleworth.


The charities subsisting in this parish are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners 28 July 1882, as varied by scheme of 23 December 1908, namely, the charities of:—

1. Thomas Knight, will, 1652, endowment consisting of £336 11s. 7d. consols, arising from the sale in 1881 of land purchased with the original bequest.

2. Elizabeth Stephens, by will, 1668, trust fund, consisting of £49 3s. 9d. consols.

3. The parish lands appear by a feoffment made 7 January 1568 to have been originally granted towards the relief of the poor, the setting forth and furnishing of soldiers, the amending of highways, and other such like works of charity, within the town and parish. The trust estate consists of 5 a. 18 p. at Whittington and 6 a. at Norton-juxta-Kempsey and £370 2s. 7d. consols.

The sums of stock, amounting together to £755 17s. 11d. consols, are held by the official trustees. Of this £600 stock was, by an order of the Charity Commissioners 17 January 1905, directed to be set aside for providing £15 a year for educational purposes, leaving a sum of £155 17s. 11d. stock, producing £3 17s. 8d., for the other charitable purposes.

The parish lands are let at £21 a year, out of which, by an order of the Charity Commissioners 22 February 1898, £6 a year was made applicable towards church expenses and the remainder of the income of the charities for eleemosynary purposes was in 1910 applied in the distribution of bread and coals.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Blue Bk. Incl. Awards, 190; Slater, Engl. Peasantry and Encl. of Common Fields, 307.
  • 3. Pop. Ret. 1891, ii, 657.
  • 4. Information given by Ecclesiastical Commissioners; Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 42.
  • 5. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 42; Habington, Surv. of Worcs. (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), ii, 147.
  • 6. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 42.
  • 7. Assize R. 1021, m. 3.
  • 8. Lay Subs. R. Worcs. c. 1280 (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), 80.
  • 9. Red Bk. of Bishopric of Worc. (Eccl. Com. Rec. Var. bdle. 121, no. 43698), fol. 35.
  • 10. Habington, op. cit. ii, 147.
  • 11. Feet of F. Worcs. 11 Edw. II, no. 22.
  • 12. Feud. Aids, v, 309.
  • 13. a Nash, op. cit. Introd. p. xiii.
  • 14. Feet of F. Worcs. 12 Hen. IV, no. 29.
  • 15. Visit. of Worcs. 1569 (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 60; a pedigree of the Gowers of Woodhall and Boughton is in the possession of Mr. Robert Vaughan Gower.
  • 16. op. cit. ii, 147.
  • 17. Cal. Pat. 1429–36, p. 159.
  • 18. Visit. of Worcs. 1569 (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 60; Chan. Inq. p.m. 33 Hen. VI, no. 9.
  • 19. Exch. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), file 1183, no. 5.
  • 20. P.R.O. List of Sheriffs, 158.
  • 21. Visit. of Worcs. 1569 (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 60.
  • 22. a A commission was granted to his son John to administer his estates in 1570 (inform. from Mr. R. Vaughan Gower).
  • 23. Feet of F. Div. Co. East. 19 Eliz.; Hardwicke MS. (Add. MS. 37940).
  • 24. a Par. reg. and pedigree in the possession of Mr. R. Vaughan Gower.
  • 25. b M.I. in church of Upton on Severn; pedigree in possession of Mr. R. Vaughan Gower.
  • 26. Feet of F. Worcs. East. 5 Chas. I. Baptiste Viscount Campden and his wife Elizabeth were parties to this fine.
  • 27. Nash, op. cit. ii, 25–6.
  • 28. Recov. R. D. Enr. Hil. 27 & 28 Chas. II, m. 5.
  • 29. Nash, loc. cit.
  • 30. Noake, Guide to Worcs. 286.
  • 31. Assize R. 1021, m. 6.
  • 32. Ibid. 1026, m. 20.
  • 33. Ibid.
  • 34. Cal. Pat. 1338–40, p. 46.
  • 35. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii, 224.
  • 36. Cal. Pat. 1338–40, p. 46.
  • 37. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii, 224.
  • 38. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xx (1), g. 465 (80).
  • 39. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), clxxii, 142; Close, 19 Eliz. pt. iii.
  • 40. Pat. 32 Eliz. pt. xxi, m. 4; inform. from Mr. W. Hill.
  • 41. Red Bk. of Bishopric of Worc. fol. 35.
  • 42. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 42.
  • 43. Cal. Close, 1231–4, p. 150.
  • 44. Red Bk. of Bishopric of Worc. fol. 35.
  • 45. Habington, op. cit. i, 147.
  • 46. Feud. Aids, v, 309.
  • 47. Reg. G. Giffard (Worcs. Hist. Soc.), 11.
  • 48. Ibid.
  • 49. Worc. Epis. Reg. William Whittlesey (1364–8), fol. 32 d., 33 f.; Nash, op. cit. ii, 28.
  • 50. Prattinton Coll. (Soc. Antiq.).
  • 51. Stat. 31 & 32 Vict. cap. 117.