Parishes: Shipston-on-Stour

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

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'Parishes: Shipston-on-Stour', A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3, (London, 1913), pp. 521-524. British History Online [accessed 25 June 2024].

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. "Parishes: Shipston-on-Stour", A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3, (London, 1913). 521-524. British History Online. Web. 25 June 2024,

In this section


Scepwaeisctune (viii cent.); Scepwestun (xi cent.); Sipestone, Sepwestun, Schipton (xiii cent.); Sepestonon-Sture (xiv cent.).

The parish of Shipston-on-Stour, which was formed out of the large parish of Tredington in 1719, (fn. 1) is one of the detached parishes of Worcestershire and lies to the south-east of the county proper. The River Stour, flowing north, forms the eastern boundary, and it is joined by a small tributary called Pig Brook, flowing east, which forms the southern boundary. The parish consists of 1,220 acres, (fn. 2) of which 110 are arable and 900 permanent grass. (fn. 3) The soil is clay, lying on a substratum of Lower Lias. The chief crops are wheat, barley and oats, but during the last twenty years much of the land has been put down to grass. At one time shag or plush weaving was largely carried on at Shipston-on-Stour, but the industry was declining in the middle of the 19th century, (fn. 4) and has now died out.

The township of Shipston-on-Stour is on the left bank of the River Stour, on the high road from Woodstock to Stratford-upon-Avon. The church of St. Edmund, near the river bank, is about 200 ft. above the ordnance datum. To the west and south the land rises steadily to Waddon Hill and Hanson Hill, 300 ft. above the ordnance datum. The main square is situated on the west side of Church Street; the George Inn and the 'White Bear' stand on the east side of the square and the 'Black Bear' on the west. Adjoining the Bell Inn is a good 18th-century house, and not far distant, in the Bell Inn road, is a house with a tablet over the porch bearing the date 1678. The rectory stands at the corner of the Chipping Camden and Chipping Norton roads. On the Stratford road, which is known in the town variously as Stratford Road, Church Street, New Street and London Road, is the Ellen Badger Memorial Cottage Hospital, erected in 1896, and to the south of the town a cemetery, consecrated 5 April 1865, with two mortuary chapels for members of the Church of England and Nonconformists. The Shipston-on-Stour union workhouse lies to the north-west of the town. (fn. 5) There is no town hall, but the 'Hostel' in Sheep Street, the property of the trustees of the late Mrs. Townsend of Honington Hall, is used for meetings and musical entertainments. Petty sessions are held in the police station on alternate Saturdays.

There is a Baptist chapel in Shipston-on-Stour, which was first formed in 1781. The present chapel was built in 1867. There is also a Wesleyan Methodist chapel, built in 1880, and a meeting-house for the Society of Friends. (fn. 6)

An Inclosure Act for Shipston was passed in 1812, and the award is dated 1815. (fn. 7)

Place-names occurring in the 17th century are Boggies, Oddenhall, Fell Mill Grounds. (fn. 8)

Francis Hickes, the translator, was born at Shipstonon-Stour in 1566. William Parry, the calligrapher and numismatist, was presented to the rectory in 1739. (fn. 9)


Huthrid (Uhtred), subregulus of the Hwiccas, granted to the church of Worcester two 'manses' near the ford of the River Stour, called Scepeswasce (i.e. Sheepwash), (fn. 10) and this grant was confirmed by King Edgar in his famous charter of 964. (fn. 11) At the date of the Domesday Survey the monks of Worcester held 2 hides in SHIPSTON-ON-STOUR, (fn. 12) and these they also held at the beginning of the 12th century. (fn. 13) In 1201 the manor was leased to Sir Thomas de Erdington for sixteen years. (fn. 14) In the register of the priory full details are given as to the services and rents due from the tenants of this manor. (fn. 15) The annual money receipts in 1240 were £2 11s. 7d. (fn. 16) In 1291 the Prior of Worcester owned 3 carucates here and at Blackwell worth £3 per annum, (fn. 17) and in 1345 he increased his holding in Shipston-on-Stour by the purchase of a messuage and 3 virgates of land from John de Tottenham and William de Hull. (fn. 18) At the beginning of the 15th century a dispute arose between the prior and his tenants as to customs and services. (fn. 19) The manor of Shipston-on-Stour remained with successive priors until the dissolution of the priory in 1540. (fn. 20) It then passed to the Crown, and was granted in 1542 to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, (fn. 21) with whom it remained until 1650, when it was sold by the Parliamentary commissioners for the sale of dean and chapter lands to Maurice Gething. (fn. 22) After the Restoration the manor of Shipston-on-Stour was restored to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester and confirmed to them in 1692. (fn. 23) It was taken over in 1859 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 24) to whom it now belongs. (fn. 25)

Seventeenth-century House, Shipston-on-Stour

In 1268 Henry III granted to the Prior of Worcester a market in Shipston-on-Stour to be held weekly on Saturdays and a fair to be held there yearly on the vigil, feast and morrow of Saint Barnabas (10–12 June). (fn. 26) This grant was confirmed in 1400 (fn. 27) and again in 1461. (fn. 28) On the dissolution of the priory in 1540 (fn. 29) the stallage of the market was worth £4 10s. (fn. 30) About the middle of the 16th century the tolls of the market were in the hands of members of the Morris family under a long lease. (fn. 31) In 573 Edward and Richard Morris, two brothers, were the lessees, taking the profits in alternate years. (fn. 32) The tolls are now leased by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the present owners, (fn. 33) to the parish council. (fn. 34) At the present day there is a market every Saturday and a monthly cattle fair, but the three statute fairs are a horse fair on the first Tuesday after 10 April, a horse and pleasure fair on 22 June, a pleasure fair and the old annual Michaelmas fair on the first Tuesday after 10 October. (fn. 35) The October fair is called 'bull roast,' as an ox is then roasted in the market. At this fair servants are hired. (fn. 36)

The mill at Shipston-on-Stour was worth 10s. in 1086, and in 1240 its value was the same. (fn. 37) There is no mill mentioned in the valor of the manor taken in 1535. At the present day there is a cornmill in the town on the River Stour.


The church of ST. EDMUND, which stands on the east side of the Stratford road, between it and the River Stour, consists of a chancel 27½ ft. by 19 ft., a north chapel 15½ ft. square, a vestry to the north of this 12 ft. by 9½ ft., south chapel 15½ ft. by 12½ ft., nave 71 ft. long and of similar width to the chancel, north aisle 15½ ft. wide, south aisle 17 ft. wide, south porch and a western tower 9½ ft. by 8¾ ft., all these measurements being taken within the walls.

The whole of the church, except the 15th-century tower, was rebuilt in 1855 in the style of the 14th century. Beyond the tower there are now no old remains. From notes made by Prattinton in 1812 the former church appears to have been of early date, consisting of a chancel and chapel and a nave separated from a north aisle by a round-arched arcade. The font, however, was of 1707. Habington mentions two raised tombs in the churchyard to John White, who died in 1632, and Thomas White his son, who died in 1631. The present chancel has an east window of five lights with a traceried head and a single light on the south. The sedile in the same wall has a segmental head, while on the north side is a flat pointed arch. On either side of the chancel are arches opening to the chapels, and that opening to the nave is of one order. The nave has arcades on both sides of five bays, and each of the chapels has a western cross arch and is lighted by a four-light traceried east window.

Both aisles have four two-light traceried windows in their side walls, with north and south entrances at the west ends. The west window of the north aisle is of two lights and the corresponding window of the south aisle of four lights, both with traceried heads.

The tower arch is old and two orders, the outer of which is continuous and the inner interrupted by a moulded capital of late form. The tower is two stages high, and is supported on its west face by diagonal buttresses which rise to about half its height. It has a western window of three lights with modern tracery and arch, but with an old two-centred rear arch. Over the west window, and also on the north side, are small rectangular lights of a single chamfered order. The belfry is lighted on each side by a two-light window with a plain spandrel in the pointed head. The parapet of the tower is embattled, and at each corner is a small square pinnacle rising from the coping only, and surmounted by a crocketed finial. There are also intermediate pinnacles set diagonally and rising from grotesque heads in the parapet string. Grotesques project likewise from the western angles at the same level.

The pulpit and the font are modern and both of stone.

There are six bells in the tower, all by Matthew Bagley, and of 1754, except the third, which is of 1774.

The plate consists of a communion cup inscribed 1824 with the hall mark for 1822, a salver of 1823 and a flagon of the same date.

The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms and burials 1572 to 1797, marriages 1572 to 1754; (ii) baptisms and burials 1798 to 1812; (iii) marriages 1754 to 1805; (iv) marriages 1806 to 1812.


Shipston-on-Stour was a chapelry of Tredington, and from very early times difficulties seem to have arisen as to the provision of a chaplain for Shipston. In 1299 it was agreed that the chaplain was to be chosen by the Prior and convent of Worcester, (fn. 38) and to be presented every year to the rector of Tredington and admitted by him, and to owe him canonical obedience. The chaplain was to receive all tithes and oblations from Shipston except tithes of sheaves, hay, fleeces and lambs and all mortuaries and the oblations of the parishioners on St. Gregory's Day. The chaplain was also to pay the rector a yearly pension of 12d. The rest of his stipend was to be paid by the parishioners. (fn. 39) This agreement was confirmed in 1363. (fn. 40) In 1516, at the request of the inhabitants, permission was given them to bury their dead at Shipston. (fn. 41) Though it seems to have been looked upon as a separate vicarage in 1535, (fn. 42) and its advowson was granted to the dean and chapter in 1542 as a late possession of the prior and convent, (fn. 43) Shipston was in reality a chapelry of Tredington until 1719, when Shipston and Tidmington were formed into a separate rectory and endowed with a third of the rectory of Tredington. (fn. 44) At the same time an agreement was made between the fellows of Jesus College, patrons of Tredington, and the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, by which the dean presented every third time to the rectory of Shipston-onStour, (fn. 45) and this arrangement still holds.


Educational Charities.

—In 1706 John Pittway by his will devised four houses and 2a. of land for the instruction, books and clothing of six scholars and for other charitable purposes.

The trust property, applicable for education, now consists of land in Horn Lane let in allotments, a building used as an engine-house producing in rents about £30 a year, and £1,501 13s. 9d. consols, producing in annual dividends £37 10s. 8d., arising from the sale of three houses in the High Street.

In 1789, as stated on the benefaction table, the Rev. Thomas Jones left £60 in augmentation of the salary of the schoolmaster. The legacy with voluntary contributions is represented by £100 consols.

These charities are regulated by a scheme of the Board of Education 19 May 1910, whereby £5 a year is directed to be applied towards religious instruction by means of a Sunday school, and the residue of the income is made applicable in apprenticing, in school fees, exhibitions, &c.

In 1747 George Marshall, by will proved in the P.C.C., left certain securities for establishing and supporting a free school. The trust fund now consists of £1,412 2s. 5d. consols, producing yearly £35 6s., which is applied for educational purposes under the provisions of a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 5 January 1886.

Eleemosynary Charities.

—The above-mentioned John Pittway, by his will, dated in 1706, also directed that a portion of the rents of the devised property should be applied in clothing and bread for the poor, and for a sermon, the trust funds of which, derived from the sale of the three houses in the High Street, were by an order of the Charity Commissioners 9 March 1906 apportioned as follows:—

Pittway's clothing dole, £140 consols, the annual dividends of £3 10s. being applied in clothing three poor men and three poor women; Pittway's bread dole, £215 6s. 8d. consols, producing £5 7s. 8d. yearly; and Pittway's ecclesiastical charity, £20 consols, the annual dividends of 10s. being paid to the rector for a sermon on Good Friday.

The several sums of stock above mentioned are held by the official trustees.

In 1555 William Willington, by his will, devised an annuity of £1 13s. 4d. for the poor, issuing out of land at Brailes, co. Warwick.

In 1747 George Marshall, by his will, left £100 South Sea new annuities, now represented by £105 19s. 2d. consols with the official trustees, producing £2 13s. yearly. The two charities are administered together and applied every three years in the distribution of meat.

In 1719 Sarah Halford, by her will, devised an annuity of £10 4s. issuing out of a farm in Willersey, co. Gloucester, 50s. to be given in clothing to each of four poor widows and a sum of 1s. in money to each.

In 1729 William Hobbins, by his will, devised an annuity of £4 out of his copyhold estate in the parish to be applied in clothing four poor men. The property charged is now in the possession of five different owners, who each pay a certain proportion.

The three charities next mentioned are administered together, namely: Thomas Hodgkins,' will proved in 1811, trust fund, £113 16s. 7d. consols; Thomas Sabin's, will proved in 1820, trust fund, £105 consols; William Horniblow's, will dated in 1826, trust fund, £88 15s. 7d. consols.

The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees, the annual dividends of which, amounting together to £7 13s. 4d., are applicable in gifts of clothing, usually of the value of 5s. each.

In 1891 Edward Vere Nicoll bequeathed £600, the interest to be applied for the benefit of the poor. The legacy was invested in £633 4s. 11d. consols with the official trustees; the annual dividends amounting to £15 16s. 4d. are applied in the distribution of grocery, drapery, coal and clothing.

The charities founded by will of Richard Badger, proved at London 7 December 1907.

This testator bequeathed for the benefit of the poor of certain parishes in this county, and in the counties of Warwick and Gloucester, a considerable sum which has been invested in the following railway securities, now held by the official trustees: £5,000 Buenos Ayres Great Southern Railway 4 per cent. stock, £6,000 Canadian Pacific Railway 4 per cent. stock, £5,000 Grand Trunk Railway of Canada 4 per cent. stock, and £4,711 London and North-Western 3 per cent. stock, producing £781 a year. This parish is entitled to one-fourteenth part of such income, amounting to £55 16s. 2d. yearly, for the benefit of the poor; this is distributed in meat and coal; also to one-twenty-first part, amounting yearly to £31 4s., which is applicable to the Church Restoration Fund.

The church is also entitled to a moiety of the income of allotments made under the Inclosure Act, known as the Church Piece and Pound, producing £5 a year, the poor being entitled to the other moiety.

The Curfew Bell Charity consists of £81 14s. 9d. consols with the official trustees, derived under the will of the above-mentioned William Horniblow for a bell-ringer for ringing one of the bells in the morning and in the evening at certain specified hours.

Nonconformist Charities.

— The Baptist chapel is endowed with land in Church Street and a messuage thereon let at £30 a year, also with £161 10s. 2d. consols with the official trustees, producing £4 0s. 8d. yearly, arising under the will of Miss Martha Sabin.


  • 1. Priv. Act, 6 Geo. I, cap. 9.
  • 2. Of which 6 acres are covered by water. In 1901 there were 338 inhabited houses in the parish, with a population of 1,564 (Census of Engl. and Wales, 1901, Worcs. 25).
  • 3. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 4. Noake, Guide to Worcs. 320.
  • 5. In 1618 it was stated that the town was charged with a multitude of poor people to the number of seven score households that were weekly relieved there, and that the inhabitants were not able to continue without help, as there were only thirty householders able to contribute to the rates. It was ordered that Blockley was to pay a third part (Var. Coll. [Hist. MSS. Com.], i, 298).
  • 6. In 1689 three houses in Shipston-onStour, one being in Shap Street, were registered as places of worship for Quakers (Var. Coll. [Hist. MSS. Com.], i, 325).
  • 7. Priv. Act, 52 Geo. III, cap. 12; Blue Bk. Incl. Awards, 191.
  • 8. Close, 1650, pt. xxxiii, no. 17.
  • 9. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 10. Birch, op. cit. i, 290; Heming, op. cit. 324, 325. The date of this charter is between 764 and 775. The AngloSaxon boundaries of Shipston are given by Heming, op. cit. 347.
  • 11. Heming, op. cit. 11, 520.
  • 12. V.C.H. Worcs. i, 295a.
  • 13. Ibid. 325a.
  • 14. Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), iv, 391.
  • 15. Reg. of Worc. Priory (Camden Soc.), 68a–69b. The 'bovarii' of this manor held on the same terms as those at the prior's manor of Blackwell (see below).
  • 16. Reg. of Worc. Priory (Camd. Soc.), Introd. p. vii.
  • 17. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 227b.
  • 18. Cal. Pat. 1343–5, p. 449.
  • 19. Ibid. 1401–5, p. 197; see also ibid. 1413–16, p. 111. Habington, writing about 1640, says that the discontented tenants broke out again, 'but all thease beeinge longe synce buryed shall not bee revived by my pen, which shall neaver preiudice or blot any with infamy' (op. cit. i, 363).
  • 20. V.C.H. Worcs. ii, 111.
  • 21. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, g. 71 (29). In the same year the king granted a lease of certain rents of grain in this manor to John Burne (ibid. p. 692).
  • 22. Close, 1650, pt. xxvii, no. 1. The demesne lands of the manor had been sold a month before to William Hicks (ibid. pt. xxxiii, no. 17).
  • 23. Pat. 4 Will. and Mary, pt. i, no. 6.
  • 24. Lond. Gaz. 16 Dec. 1859, p. 4757; confirmed by Stat. 31 Vict. cap. 19.
  • 25. Information supplied by Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
  • 26. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. viii, 169; Habington, op. cit. i, 363.
  • 27. Cal. Pat. 1399–1401, p. 384. About this time the fair was discontinued owing to the riotous behaviour of the tenants (see above); Habington, loc. cit.
  • 28. Cal. Pat. 1461–7, p. 160.
  • 29. V.C.H. Worcs. ii, 111.
  • 30. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii, 222.
  • 31. Ct. of Req. bdle. 120, no. 31.
  • 32. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdle. 129, no. 95. In this year Edward Morris brought proceedings against one William Tydsall, who erected eight stalls every Saturday and on fair days, and charged each holder of them 1d. (ibid.). In 1581 Edward Morris gave Richard all his lands, &c., in Shipston-on-Stour provided that he might quietly hold two shops and the profits of the criership of Shipston-onStour which Richard had demised to him (Anct. D. [P.R.O.], A 5955).
  • 33. Information supplied by Mr. William Ellis Coe.
  • 34. Ibid.
  • 35. Ibid.
  • 36. Information supplied by Mr. F. S. Parsons.
  • 37. V.C.H. Worcs. i, 295; Reg. of Worc. Priory (Camd. Soc.), Introd. p. xv.
  • 38. The prior and convent agreed to pay 8s. to the rector.
  • 39. Nash, op. cit. ii, 435, quoting White Book of bishopric.
  • 40. Nash, loc. cit.
  • 41. Nash, op. cit. ii, 434; Worc. Epis. Reg. Silvester de Gigliis (1498–1521), fol. 123 d.
  • 42. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii, 257.
  • 43. Pat. 33 Hen. VIII, pt. v; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, g. 71 (29).
  • 44. Priv. Act, 6 Geo. I, cap. 9.
  • 45. Bacon, Liber Regis, 984.