A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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ST. PETER with WHITTINGTON
The parish of St. Peter, Worcester, lies to the south and south-east of Worcester city. Together with the civil parish of Whittington it covers an area of 2,313 acres. The north-western corner of the parish, including the church of St. Peter, lies within the city and forms the southern quarter of Worcester adjoining the main thoroughfare of Sidbury or Sudbury Street (Suthebury, xiii cent.). At Sidbury lived the earliest family of bell-founders known to have exercised their trade in the city. (fn. 1) A chapel or oratory dedicated in honour of St. Katherine stood there in the 17th century. (fn. 2) At right angles to Sidbury ran La Knole or Studemery's Knoll (now Edgar Street), the approach to the Great Gate of the priory. (fn. 3) Sidbury Gate stood at the south end of Sidbury (fn. 4) and was the chief entrance to the city from the south. It was commanded on the east by the earthwork called Fort Royal. On the other side of the gate Sidbury becomes the London Road and leads on towards Battenhall. The hospital of St. Wulfstan lay just without the gate.
The meadow called Digleys or Dudleys, now Diglis, south-west of Sidbury by the river, was partly demesne of the Bishop of Worcester. Bishop Godfrey granted pasture rights over his lands there to the hospital of St. Wulfstan and the priory of Worcester. (fn. 5) Part of it was apparently appurtenant to the castle of Worcester, (fn. 6) and the Prior of Worcester had a rent of £6 accruing from it in 1535. (fn. 7) In 1542 the 'first crop of the field called Digley' was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester. (fn. 8) The close called Diglis, described as parcel of Warwick's and Spencer's lands, was leased to John Bourne in 1546. (fn. 9) In 1669 the dean and chapter had three closes called Diglis lying between Green Lane on the east and the river on the west. (fn. 10) There was a hermitage of St. Ursula at Diglis, but no record has been found of it until the 16th century, when it was in decay. (fn. 11)
The southern part of St. Peter's parish is entirely rural and consists chiefly of pasture land. There is now no woodland within it, (fn. 12) although it was formerly in the ambit of the forest of Feckenham, which came up to Sidbury Gate. On the west the parish is bounded by the River Severn, and the land adjoining the river does not average more than 50 ft. above the ordnance datum. In the north-east it rises to about 200 ft. The road to Tewkesbury runs south from Worcester through the parish on its western side, and the London road cuts through it in a south-easterly direction, leading towards Pershore. Indulgences to those who should assist in the repair of the latter road between Worcester and Kempsey, where the bishop had a palace, were granted in 1427 and 1448. (fn. 13) This road passes the farms of Barneshall and Timberdine. (fn. 14)
The manor-house of Battenhall, a 17th-century half-timber house of two stories and attic, with modern additions on the south and west, stands between the roads from Pershore and Kempsey. To the north and south of the manor-house are Middle Battenhall and Upper Battenhall Farms.
The civil parish of Whittington has an area of 1,108 acres. Ecclesiastically Whittington is now a chapelry of St. Martin's, but before its transference in 1910 it had been attached from an early date to St. Peter's. (fn. 15) Other parts of St. Peter's were at the same time transferred to the newly-formed parish of St. Martin (q.v.). The church of St. Philip and St. James stands on the east of the road to Pershore, occupying the site of the ancient chapel of the same name. To the south-west, on the other side of the road, is Crookbarrow Hill, a very large elliptical mound with artificial top; its character and origin are unknown. Crookbarrow manor-house, now a farm, stands under Crookbarrow Hill to the east of the main road. It is a late 17th-century brick building of two stories and attic with modern additions; it is partly surrounded by a moat which begins on the north and goes round the west to the south side. In the village on the main road are some 18th-century brick houses.
At Swinesherd on the north-eastern boundary of Whittington one of the leets for Oswaldslow Hundred was held. (fn. 16) Swinesherd (Swinesheasdan) is mentioned among the boundaries of Whittington in 989, (fn. 17) and a 'cultura called Swynesheved' in the manor of Whittington occurs in the 13th century. (fn. 18)
Where the London and Alcester roads join at Red Hill in the north-eastern corner of the parish was the spot at which all the county criminals were executed until the early half of the 18th century. The gibbet on which such of them as were hung in chains were suspended also stood here.
The manor of BATTENHALL. (Batenhale, x cent.) was in the possession of the church of Worcester in 969, when a lease for three lives of one 'mansa' there was made by Bishop Oswald to a clerk named Wulfgar. (fn. 19) The Domesday Survey makes no mention of Battenhall; possibly it is one of the two estates given under the name of Whittington (q.v.), both of which were held under the Bishop of Worcester by Walter Poer, with whose descendants the manor is next found. In 1249 Hugh Poer quitclaimed 2 carucates of land in Battenhall to William Poer. (fn. 20) Sir William Poer, son of Roger Poer, was holding the manor at the end of the 13th century (fn. 21) and settled it on his brother Roger for life with reversion to William Walens and Walter Hacket successively. (fn. 22) Afterwards, however, by a sequence of grants of portions of the manor from Sir William Poer, the whole estate seems to have passed to Richard le Mercer, a citizen of Worcester. (fn. 23) In 1306 John de Merton and Elizabeth his wife, possibly a daughter (fn. 24) and co-heir (fn. 25) of Sir William Poer, quitclaimed the manor to Richard le Mercer, his wife Margaret and his son John le Mercer. (fn. 26) Richard was apparently dead by 1327 when John le Mercer conveyed the manor through his feoffees Bikerton and Braunsford to the priory of Worcester, (fn. 27) a grant followed in 1330 by a quitclaim of all the knights' fees appurtenant to the manor. (fn. 28) The manor was appropriated to the cellarer (fn. 29) and remained with the priory until the Dissolution. (fn. 30)
Battenhall was excepted from the grant of the priory lands to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, (fn. 31) and in 1545 was granted in fee to John Bourne, (fn. 32) who had been lessee under the prior (fn. 33) and afterwards under the king. (fn. 34) In 1555 it was confirmed by Queen Mary, (fn. 35) under whom Sir John Bourne served as a Secretary of State. At his death in 1575 the manor descended to his son Anthony Bourne, (fn. 36) who in January 1576–7 sold it to Thomas Bromley, (fn. 37) then SolicitorGeneral and afterwards Lord Chancellor. Henry Bromley his son, who succeeded him in 1587, alienated the manor in 1614 to William Sebright of Besford. (fn. 38) It then followed the descent of Besford (fn. 39) (q.v.) until the last quarter of the 19th century, when it was sold in lots to a number of small proprietors, a large part becoming building land. (fn. 40)
A park pertained to the manor of Battenhall in the time of the Prior and convent of Worcester (fn. 41) and was granted with the manor to John Bourne. (fn. 42) The 16th-century manor-house stood within the park, (fn. 43) but it had been destroyed before the end of the 18th century. (fn. 44)
William Poer was presented before the justices for his warren in 1275, but is said to have shown his warrant. (fn. 45) Free warren was exercised by the Priors of Worcester and was the subject of a suit for trespass brought by their successor Sir John Bourne (fn. 46) against the lessee of certain demesne lands called Warwick Furlong, Gylden Acrefield and Gyldenfield, where contrary to the terms of the lease the lessee had hunted conies. (fn. 47)
The manor of WHITTINGTON (Huitington, ix cent. ; Widinton, xi cent.) was granted to Deneberht Bishop of Worcester by Coenwulf King of the Mercians in 816 in exchange for other lands. (fn. 48) In 989 Oswald Bishop of Worcester leased Whittington for three lives to Gardulf, (fn. 49) and later Bishop Britheah gave it to his brother Ailric, but the latter was dispossessed by King William. (fn. 50) In 1086 it consisted of two estates attached as members to the bishop's manors of Kempsey and Northwick, (fn. 51) both held under the bishop by Walter Poer. (fn. 52) Hugh Poer is returned as tenant of the Kempsey member in an early 12th-century survey of Oswaldslow, (fn. 53) and another Hugh, possibly his son, was holding both members at the end of the same century. (fn. 54) About the middle of the 13th century Sir Roger Poer appears as witness to a grant of land called Stocking in Whittington made to the Prior and convent of Worcester, (fn. 55) and is probably the Roger Poer who was called upon by Walter Poer to warrant to him 2 virgates of land in Whittington in 1226. (fn. 56) About the same time John Poer appears as tenant of the Northwick member, (fn. 57) possibly by subfeoffment.
Whittington was one of the knights' fees granted to the priory of Worcester by John le Mercer in 1330, (fn. 58) when a toft and a carucate of land there were held by Roger Poer, clerk, as a quarter of a knight's fee. Later this estate does not seem to have preserved its identity as a manor. Part of it seems to have been attached to the manor of Spetchley (fn. 59) and part to Woodhall in Norton. (fn. 60) Nash says that the 'principal farm' in his time was held by Richard Ingram, who had bought it of Randall Stevens. (fn. 61) Mr. R. V. Berkeley of Spetchley Park is now the principal landowner.
The manor of TIMBERDON or TIMBERDINE consisted of lands granted at various times to the Prior and convent of Worcester, chiefly to the use of the almoner. (fn. 62) A weir there (possibly the fishery mentioned under Whittington in the Survey of 1086) is said to have been given to them by Walter Poer. (fn. 63) In 1535 the convent's demesne lands at Timberdine were valued at £5. (fn. 64)
The site of the manor with the fishery in the Severn and a wood called Pylgrove was granted to John Bourne in 1545. (fn. 65) It descended with Battenhall (fn. 66) (q.v.) to Henry Bromley, who as Sir Henry Bromley, kt., sold it in 1611 to Edward Mytton. (fn. 67) Mytton died seised in 1620 (fn. 68) and his son Edward (fn. 69) in 1627, (fn. 70) the latter leaving a son and heir of the same name. In 1799 the manor was in the possession of Anthony Lechmere, who with his wife Mary conveyed it in that year to Isaac Pickering. (fn. 71) The Lechmeres, however, retained the manorhouse and a considerable part of the land until 1912, when Mr. Anthony Lechmere sold the property in lots. (fn. 72)
In this manor on the Kempsey road is a publichouse called the Ketch, in a low window of which looking down the river Samuel Butler is said to have written part of 'Hudibras.' (fn. 73)
The manor of BARNES or BARNES HALL was another priory estate originating in a carucate of land at 'La Neweberne' and Timberdine granted with the manor of Battenhall to the convent of Worcester in 1327. (fn. 74) In the 14th century this estate was, as the name suggests, the priory stock farm. (fn. 75) In 1535 the lands called 'Le Barnys' were farmed out by the priory for £5. (fn. 76)
The site of the manor was granted with Battenhall (q.v.) to John Bourne in 1545. (fn. 77) It descended with that manor to Sir Henry Bromley, (fn. 78) who sold it in 1611 to Thomas Andrewes. (fn. 79) Andrewes died seised in January 1636–7, leaving a son and heir Jonathan. (fn. 80) The manor descended in this family (fn. 81) until it came to two heiresses—Abigail, who married John York, and Anne, who married William Hopton. It was sold by Hopton and by York's eldest son to Treadway Nash, D.D., in 1767. (fn. 82) Nash settled it on his daughter Margaret, who married John Lord Somers. (fn. 83) Their eldest son Edward Charles Cocks, on whom a settlement was made in 1811, (fn. 84) was killed the following year at the siege of Burgos. It descended with the other Somers estates and is now the property of Lady Henry Somerset.
The manor of CROOKBARROW (Crokbarwe, Crockebergh, xiv cent.) was one of the knights' fees granted with the manor of Battenhall to Worcester Priory in 1330. (fn. 85) In 1314 it was held in demesne by Alexander de Montfort and his wife Elizabeth. They in that year granted it to Edmund Hakelut, (fn. 86) who in 1330 received a grant of free warren in his demesnes of Crookbarrow and Whittington. (fn. 87) The manor remained in the hands of tenants under the priory. Thomas Gower died seised of it in February 1439–40, when it descended to Thomas his son and heir. (fn. 88) It then followed the descent of Woodhall Manor in Norton by Kempsey (fn. 89) until 1676, when both manors were settled upon Thomas Stevens. (fn. 90) It is said by Nash to have been bought by Edward Ingram of Upper Home, Clifton. (fn. 91) His son Richard Ingram suffered a recovery of it in 1799, (fn. 92) and in 1814 it was in the possession of John Richard Ingram. (fn. 93) It afterwards passed to the Berkeleys of Spetchley, who now own it.
A park was appurtenant to the manor of Crookbarrow in 1504. (fn. 94)
The church of ST. PETER stands at the extreme south-east corner of the city upon the walls, and is a large barn-like structure of brick and stucco, erected about 1820. The old church consisted of chancel and nave with north and south aisles, and had a 15th-century tower at the north-west angle panelled in the Somerset manner. (fn. 95)
There are three bells: the first by Godwin Baker, inscribed 'LORDE IN THEE IS OVR HOOP 1615,' with the churchwardens' names; the second by John Martin, 1661, and the third by the same, 1693 (his latest bell); also a 'ting-tang' by Warner, 1885.
The plate consists of a cup without cover and illegible hall mark, a large paten, and an almsdish inscribed 'The gift of Mrs. Anna Dennis of the Commandry in Worcester, 1721.' There are also a cup, paten and flagon in plated ware. (fn. 96)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1686 to 1745; (ii) baptisms 1745 to 1797, burials 1745 to 1782, marriages 1745 to 1754; (iii) marriages 1754 to 1783; (iv) marriages 1783 to 1812; (v) burials 1783 to 1812; (vi) baptisms 1798 to 1812. (fn. 97)
The church of ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES, Whittington, erected in 1842, stands 100 yards east of the main road upon the site of the ancient chapel. It is built of coursed rubble with sandstone dressings in 13th-century style, and consists of chancel, nave, south porch and small west tower. The walls are plastered internally and have opentimber tiled roofs. There are some early 19th-century mural monuments in the nave; one on the north wall is to Francis Best, 1795, Ann his wife, 1819, and their two daughters: and one on the south wall is to Henry West, 1798, and Ann his wife, 1817. On the nave floor are two 18th-century slabs to the Hampton family.
There is one bell by G. Mears of London.
The plate consists of silver chalice, paten and almsdish, all Victorian.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1653 to 1708; (ii) baptisms 1709 to 1796, marriages 1710 to 1755, and burials 1710 to 1795, rather confusedly intermingled; (iii) marriages 1755 to 1811; (iv) baptisms 1796 to 1812 and burials 1796 to 1811.
The advowson of St. Peter's Church was granted to the convent of Pershore by John Poer in the first half of the 13th century. (fn. 98) In 1384 the abbot obtained licence to appropriate the church. (fn. 99)
The rectory and advowson were granted in 1542 to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, (fn. 100) with whom they have since remained. (fn. 101) Leases were made of the advowson, the rectorial tithe and parts of the glebe lands during the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 102)
The chapel of Whittington was originally appurtenant to the church of St. Helen in the city of Worcester. (fn. 103) A pension of 2s. from it is said to have been granted to Worcester Priory by Hugh Poer. (fn. 104) Later it seems to have been held as a chapel to St. Peter's by the Abbot of Pershore, (fn. 105) but at the end of the 15th century the inhabitants claimed parochial status for it. The matter was compromised by an agreement with Pershore that the latter should pay 20s. yearly towards the support of a chaplain. (fn. 106) The living was held with St. Peter's until 1910, when it was annexed to St. Martin's.
The following charities are distributed on St. Thomas's Day, namely, John Hughes', mentioned on the church table as founded by will, 1636, consisting of a rent-charge of 40s., issuing out of the Crown Inn, Friar Street.
Sarah Hodgkins' (date of foundation unknown, but mentioned in Parliamentary returns of 1786), consisting of a rent-charge of 20s., payable out of the Red Lion Inn, Sidbury.
Richard Adams' (mentioned on the same table), will 1702, being 20s. yearly issuing out of a farm at Alfrick in Suckley.
Charities of Henry Staunton and others, which consist of a freehold house, 5 Edgar Street, Worcester, producing £28 10s. a year, one moiety of the net income being applicable for the poor and the other moiety for expenses in connexion with the church.
Mrs. Sarah Hall's (mentioned on the church table), will 1776, trust fund, £350 consols, the dividends to be applied in warm gowns for six poor maids or widows.
Charles Geary's, will date unknown, mentioned on church table as a legacy of £20, now represented by £30 11s. 9d. consols, the interest to be given to ten poor women.
Thomas Taylor's, date of foundation not stated, trust fund, £103 9s. 10d. consols, arising from sale of two cottages in Meadow Row, Worcester, dividends applicable in the distribution of articles in kind.
William Otley's, will proved at Worcester 19 September 1864, trust fund, £49 11s. 1d. consols, dividends applicable in the distribution of bread.
Anna Farrell's, will proved at London 10 March 1894, trust fund, £176 5s. 1d. consols, dividends applicable in the distribution of bread and coal.
The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, producing in annual dividends £17 4s. 4d. In 1910 the sum of £23 was expended on St. Thomas's Day in the distribution of dresses, sheets and petticoats, £4 13s. on bread and groceries and £10 towards church expenses.
Other donations mentioned on the church table appear to have been lost.
In 1855 William Dent, by his will proved 22 January, bequeathed £1,000, the interest to be applied in the purchase of coats, gowns and blankets for poor men, women and housekeepers. The legacy was invested in £1,063 16s. 7d. consols with the official trustees, producing £26 11s. 8d. yearly.
In 1861 Robert Allies, by his will proved 18 March, bequeathed £500, the interest to be distributed in October in blankets to poor housekeepers. The legacy was invested in £514 2s. 9d. consols, producing £12 17s. yearly. The stock is with the official trustees, who also hold a sum of £514 2s. 9d. like stock, arising from a legacy by the same testator, for the benefit of the Church of England day schools.
The official trustees likewise hold a sum of £594 15s. 10d. consols, representing a legacy of £600 by will of Thomas Nicholls Stratford, proved at Worcester 8 March 1883, producing £14 17s. 4d. yearly, of which two-thirds are applied in the distribution of groceries to the poor of St. Peter's and one-third for the poor of the chapelry of Whittington.
In 1908 John Darke, by his will proved at London 24 March, left as an endowment fund for St. Mark's Mission Church a legacy which is represented by £348 17s. 2d. India 3½ per cent. stock and a sum of £67 5s. 7d. cash with the Worcester Diocesan Trustees. The charity is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners 23 March 1910.
Chapelry of Whittington.
—In 1668 Elizabeth Stephens by her will left £50, now represented by £51 5s. 5d. consols, for the poor. The annual dividends, amounting to £1 5s. 8d., are distributed in small money doles.
In 1881 Miss Alice Bateman, by her will proved at Worcester 31 May, left a legacy, represented by £95 9s. 8d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £2 7s. 8d., to be applied towards the salary of the organist.
In 1883 Thomas Nicholls Stratford, by his will proved at Worcester 8 March, bequeathed £600, which was invested in £594 15s. 10d. consols, the annual dividends, amounting to £14 17s. 4d., being applicable as to two-thirds for the poor of St. Peter the Great, city of Worcester, and one-third for the poor of Whittington.
In 1888 Miss Fanny Clifton, by a codicil to her will proved at Wells 13 March, bequeathed £900, the interest to be applied in the purchase of coal and fuel for distribution on St. Thomas's Day, with power for the trustees to provide a fund for any special time of want. The legacy is, with accumulations, represented by £955 7s. 6d. consols, producing £23 17s. 8d. yearly. In 1910 5 cwt. of coal was distributed to each of seventy-one recipients.
The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees.