A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
PERSHORE, HOLY CROSS with WADBOROUGH and WALCOT CUM MEMBRIS
The parish of Holy Cross includes the northern and western parts of the town of Pershore and stretches north-west to Kempsey and Pirton. The Piddle Brook separates it from Wyre Piddle on the east and the Avon forms part of its eastern boundary. It is also watered by the Bow Brook. The parish contains 4,594 acres, of which a large portion is permanent grass. There is also much arable land and good fruit crops are produced, many of the inhabitants being employed in market gardening and fruit farming. The soil is partly clay on a subsoil of Lower Lias and alluvium, but in places there is a light soil on a subsoil of gravel.
The woodland at the present day amounts to only 224 acres, (fn. 1) but in former days the woods around Pershore were of considerable importance, (fn. 2) and there still remain survivals of some of the ancient woods under their old names. Abbots Wood in Wadborough belonged to the Abbots of Pershore. It contained 50 acres in 1544, when it was granted with the manors of Old and New Pershore to William and Francis Sheldon. (fn. 3) It was purchased about 1720 by Richard Nash of Henry Stafford, nephew and heir of Sir John Cocks of Crowle, and belonged at the end of the 18th century to the Rev. Treadway Nash. (fn. 4) The wood passed with the rest of Dr. Nash's possessions to his daughter Margaret wife of John Lord Somers. (fn. 5)
Chivington (fn. 6) and Ramsen (Romlesdun, Ramsden) Woods also belonged to the Abbots of Pershore. They were granted with Challing or Knowling Coppice in 1544 to William and Francis Sheldon, (fn. 7) and evidently passed with the site of the abbey to Sir Hugh Brawne, for he sold them in 1610 to William Sebright of London, (fn. 8) who was still holding them at his death in 1620. (fn. 9) Ramsen Wood has now disappeared.
A pasture called Hunger Hill, forming part of the manor of Allesborough, (fn. 10) was granted with that manor in 1547 to Sir Ralph Sadleir, (fn. 11) and followed its descent until the 17th century. (fn. 12) The Vineyard at Pershore seems, before the Dissolution, to have formed part of Hunger Hill. (fn. 13) It was, however, granted in 1544 with the site of the abbey to William and Francis Sheldon. (fn. 14) They sold it in 1554 to Conan Richardson. (fn. 15) Though it was in the manor of Allesborough, it followed the descent of the site of the abbey until 1630. (fn. 16) There is an orchard now called Vineyard at the foot of Allesborough Hill, on the Worcester road just outside the town. The wood called Blackthorn (Blakethurnes) formed part of the Beauchamps' manor of Wadborough in the 14th century. (fn. 17) The wood of Deerfold (la Derfaude) also formed part of that manor. (fn. 18)
The old high road from Worcester to Evesham passes through Pershore, Allesborough Hill, Drake's Broughton and Stoulton. A new route over Stonebow Bridge was projected about 1750 by the inhabitants of Evesham and carried out in spite of the protests of the people of Pershore, who appealed against it on the ground that it would ruin their town if the traffic between London and Worcester were diverted from it. (fn. 19)
From the town of Pershore, which lies in the Avon Valley, the land rises to the north-west. Allesborough Hill, about a mile to the north-west of the town, is one of the highest points in the parish. From this estate the Lords Coventry took their title. Habington describes it as commanding a beautiful view over the vale of Evesham, and says that its only defect was the lack of wood. (fn. 20) The manor of Allesborough extended as far north as Drake's Broughton and included the hamlets of Broughton and Chivington. (fn. 21) Drake's Broughton (fn. 22) seems to have acquired the first part of its name from a family called 'le Drake' who held land there in the 13th century. (fn. 23) Caddicroft Farm, to the south of Drake's Broughton, formed part of the possessions of Pershore Abbey before the Dissolution. (fn. 24) It afterwards followed the descent of the manor of Allesborough. (fn. 25)
Walcot (fn. 26) is to the north of the town. Near it on the opposite side of Bow Brook are the Atlas Works. Caldwell, the seat of Mr. George Whitaker, stands in large grounds south of the Worcester Road. A capital messuage here belonged in 1318 to John le Brun, (fn. 27) and in 1747 the site of the manor of Caldwell was conveyed by Elizabeth Moore to Richard Brodrepp. (fn. 28)
Wadborough is a hamlet in the north-west of the parish. Here is a station on the Bristol and Birmingham branch of the Midland railway. At Abbots Wood Junction this railway joins the Abbots Wood branch of the Great Western railway. There is a Primitive Methodist chapel at Wadborough.
The commons at Allesborough were inclosed under an Act of 1761, the award being dated in the following year. (fn. 29) The Act for Drake's Broughton was passed in 1801–2, (fn. 30) and the award is dated 1803. (fn. 31)
Place-names occurring in Holy Cross are: Sexteynesdich (fn. 32) (xiv cent.); Chorleton, (fn. 33) Lympucteshull (fn. 34) (xv cent.); Foxoll Yate, Wodesslade Yate, (fn. 35) Herseygutter, (fn. 36) Snakysfyld, le Sych, (fn. 37) Dame Ellynhey, (fn. 38) Lawditch, (fn. 39) St. Katherine's Pleck, Iryshe Pleck (fn. 40) (xvi cent.). The crosses of Newland Cross, (fn. 41) Bowyers Cross, High Cross (fn. 42) and Hampton Cross (fn. 43) are mentioned in the Court Rolls.
The manors of OLD and NEW PERSHORE were granted with the site of the abbey in 1544 to William and Francis Sheldon, (fn. 44) who sold them in 1553 to Conan Richardson. (fn. 45) Conan was succeeded in 1570 by a son John, (fn. 46) who seems to have given the two manors to his nephew Conan Richardson, (fn. 47) for Conan sold them in 1598 to George French. (fn. 48) George conveyed the manors in 1642–3 to Edward Baugh, (fn. 49) possibly for a settlement on his son or grandson George. It was probably the younger George who was succeeded in 1660 by Augustus French, (fn. 50) who conveyed the manors in 1668 to Edward Dineley, possibly as a preliminary to their sale to Giles Lawrence. (fn. 51) They were sold by Giles son of Giles Lawrence in 1698 to Sir Edward Sebright, (fn. 52) and descended with Besford (q.v.) in the Sebright family until about the middle of the 19th century. (fn. 53) Leets were held annually for the manors until about 1830. (fn. 54) In 1868 the estate belonged to Mrs. Elizabeth Malins, but all manorial rights had lapsed. (fn. 55)
The abbey buildings are said to have been entirely destroyed at the Dissolution, but parts called 'Le New Galorye' and 'le New Lodging' seem to have been allowed to remain for a time at least, as they were leased in 1539 for twenty-one years to Anthony Southwell. (fn. 56) In 1540 John Russell of Strensham requested that all the stone from the abbey should be kept for him, with the roof and covering of the library, the 'whole house of the myserycorde, the whole workhouse with two parts of the cloister with the covering.' (fn. 57) THE SITE OF THE ABBEY passed with the manors of Old and New Pershore to John Richardson, on whose death in 1584 it passed to his son William. (fn. 58) He sold it in 1605–6 to Hugh Brawne and Richard (fn. 59) his son. Richard, then Sir Richard Brawne of Alscot (co. Glouc.), sold the site in 1630 to Thomas Baugh of Abload Court in Sandhurst (co. Glouc.), who was succeeded before 1654 by a son Thomas. (fn. 60) Part of the site is now in the churchyard. The rest, on which the present Abbey House is built, belonged early in the 19th century to John G. Bedford, whose daughter married Colonel Scobell. (fn. 61) Colonel Scobell sold it in 1887 to Colonel Alfred Henry Hudson, of whom it was purchased in 1912 by Mr. Henry E. Wise. The latter conveyed it in trust for the monks at Caldey Island, but when the majority of them joined the Roman Catholic church it was reconveyed to Mr. Wise, who is the present owner. (fn. 62)
The manor of ALLESBOROUGH (fn. 63) (Elesberge, xiii cent.; Ealesberga, Allesbergh, xiv cent.; Allesborowe, xvi cent.) was apparently in early times part of that manor of Pershore which belonged to the monastery of Pershore. Its members of Chivington and Drake's Broughton are mentioned in the so-called charter of King Edgar to Pershore, (fn. 64) and both occur in the Domesday Survey as berewicks of Pershore, (fn. 65) while its third member, Walcot, appears in the 12th-century survey of the hundred, (fn. 66) but Allesborough is mentioned for the first time as a manor in the 13th century, when Roger Abbot of Pershore (1234–50) gave a rent of 10s. from the demesnes there to the monks of Pershore. (fn. 67) The manor remained in the possession of successive abbots until the Dissolution. (fn. 68)
In 1546 Ralph Sadleir wrote to John Hanby, Auditor of Augmentations, asking for particulars of Allesborough, (fn. 69) and in the following year he bought the manor and Allesborough Grange. (fn. 70) Ralph was knighted in 1547 (fn. 71) and died in 1587, when his son Thomas succeeded. (fn. 72) The manor passed in 1607 from Thomas (then a knight) to his son Ralph, (fn. 73) who sold both the manor and grange in 1622 to Richard Shilton and Hugh Dashfield. (fn. 74) The two latter were probably acting as trustees for Thomas Coventry, (fn. 75) for he was in 1628 created Lord Coventry of Allesborough, (fn. 76) and was holding the manor in 1653. (fn. 77) It has since descended with Croome D'Abitôt. (fn. 78)
Four manses at WADBOROUGH (fn. 79) (Wuadbeorhan, Wadbeorgan, x cent.; Wadberge, xi cent.) were confirmed to the abbey of Pershore by the so-called charter of King Edgar. (fn. 80) In 1086 Wadborough was a berewick of the church of Pershore's manor of Pershore. (fn. 81) Here Robert le Despencer, brother of the Sheriff Urse, had his park and land assessed at 3½ hides. This land had belonged to the demesne villeins with half a hide which was held by a tenant of the abbot. Another hide had been the monks' dairy farm, and was bought of them by Godric, a thegn of Edward the Confessor, for three lives. In 1086 Urse the sheriff held this hide as third inheritor, and it was said that after his death it should revert to the abbey. (fn. 82) This it apparently did, for in the 12th-century survey of the lands which the Beauchamps held of the abbey of Pershore only the 3½ hides formerly held by Robert le Despencer are returned as being held by his great-nephew William Beauchamp. (fn. 83) The Abbot of Pershore obtained from William son of Walter Beauchamp his agreement for the inclosure of the abbot's wood at Wadborough. (fn. 84) This was probably the cause of a suit in 1223 between the abbot and the parson of Kempsey as to common rights here. (fn. 85) In 1251 Henry III granted to the abbot free warren in this manor. (fn. 86) At the Dissolution the abbey apparently held only the tithes of Wadborough. (fn. 87) No grant of this manor after the Dissolution has been found, but it is probably to be identified with the manor of Wadborough which was settled in 1628 on Richard Chambers. Richard died seised of it in 1630 and was succeeded by his nephew William. (fn. 88) In 1634 William sold the manor to Edward Turvey, (fn. 89) from whom it passed to Thomas Turvey. (fn. 90) Elizabeth daughter and heir of Thomas Turvey married Other Lord Windsor, (fn. 91) and this manor was in 1710 vested in trustees to be sold for the payment of the debts of her son Other Earl of Plymouth. (fn. 92) After this time there is no further mention of the estate.
William Beauchamp held his estate at Wadborough in the 12th century of the abbey of Pershore, and the abbot's overlordship was recognized until the 15th century. (fn. 93) In 1298 and 1315 the rent due for Wadborough was said to be one buck yearly. (fn. 94)
From Robert le Despencer the manor of Wadborough passed with that of Elmley Castle (fn. 95) to the Beauchamps. (fn. 96) It seems to have been connected with Stoulton at an early date, the two estates being known in the 16th century and afterwards as Stoulton with Wadborough. (fn. 97) In 1315 Stoulton appears as a barton of Wadborough Manor. (fn. 98) The two manors have always followed the same descent. (fn. 99)
Robert le Despencer's park at Wadborough was still in existence in the reign of Elizabeth, (fn. 100) but it had disappeared before the middle of the 17th century. (fn. 101) The manor-house of Wadborough may have been Wadborough Park Farm, where there is a moat.
The HERMITAGE (Armitage, xv cent.) at Wadborough is first mentioned in the 13th century, when William Poer gave land there to Gervase Abbot of Pershore (fn. 102) (1204–34). It formed part of the estate of the abbots at Wadborough until the Dissolution. (fn. 103) Though it is not mentioned in the grant of Allesborough Manor to Ralph Sadleir, it was probably included in it, for the capital messuage called the Hermitage was part of the estate sold in 1622 by Ralph Sadleir to Richard Shilton and Hugh Dashfield. (fn. 104) It is not again mentioned, but its site is still marked by Hermitage Farm, near the Pirton boundary.
The manor of HARLEY was held of the Abbot of Westminster's manor of Binholme. (fn. 105) It seems to have belonged in the 13th century to the Harleys. Henry de Harley was holding a tenement there of Geoffrey D'Abitot in 1240–1. (fn. 106) Robert de Harley occurs in 1313, (fn. 107) and, taking part in the rising against the Despencers, lost his land at Harley in 1322. (fn. 108) In 1374—5 William Bracy and his wife Joan released to Catherine de Harley, late wife of Henry de Etyndon, all the lands of John de Harley in Harley and elsewhere. (fn. 109) Two years later Joan relict of Robert de Harley gave to Alexander de Besford all the land in Harley which belonged to her late husband. (fn. 110) In 1379 Richard Warin and his wife Catherine, possibly Catherine Harley mentioned above, conveyed the manor of Harley to trustees. (fn. 111) In 1392 these trustees, or their representatives, obtained licence to grant messuages and land at Harley and elsewhere to the Abbot and convent of Pershore. (fn. 112) The abbot held an estate at Harley in 1401–2, (fn. 113) but the manor is not afterwards mentioned and may have become merged in Allesborough, (fn. 114) for in 1547 pastures called Harley and Harley Court were granted to Ralph Sadleir, (fn. 115) and passed with Allesborough to Richard Shilton and Hugh Dashfield. (fn. 116) The site of this manor is not known, and the name has disappeared.
THORNDON is occasionally mentioned as a manor, but seems to have formed part of the manor of Wadborough belonging to the Earls of Warwick. (fn. 117) Early in the 12th century William de Beauchamp held a hide and a half at Thorndon and Walcot of the Abbot of Pershore's fief. (fn. 118) It was held in the 13th century by a family taking their name from the estate. Roger Abbot of Pershore (1234–50) allowed Maurice de Thorndon to found a chantry in his chapel of Thorndon, (fn. 119) and in 1254 Sir Maurice de Thorndon granted to the monks of Pershore a yearly rent from his lands in Pershore. (fn. 120) John de Thorndon, who lived at the end of the 13th century, probably succeeded Maurice. (fn. 121) His daughter Sibyl married Richard Folliott, (fn. 122) and her grandson Roger Folliott was holding the manor in 1315. (fn. 123) In 1389 the manor belonged to Richard Thorgrim. (fn. 124) Thorndon does not appear as a separate manor after this time. Its site is marked by Thorndon Farm, at Windmill Hill, on the Stoulton boundary.
In 1086 the Abbot of Pershore had a mill in his manor of Pershore. (fn. 125) It was worth 10s. in 1291, (fn. 126) and is probably the 'mill of the lord' mentioned in a Court Roll of Oldland in 1504. (fn. 127) It may, perhaps, be identified with 'Pershore Myllys,' of which the last Abbot of Pershore granted a lease to the vicar of St. Andrew's in 1526–7. (fn. 128)
Gervase Abbot of Pershore (1204–34) is said to have bought the pool and mill of Lokebrig, (fn. 129) but a fish-pond there belonged to Abbot Simon (1175–98). (fn. 130) This was probably the later Lough or Lowzgh Mill for which the sub-cellarer was receiving a rent in 1378. (fn. 131) It seems to have been in the manor of Allesborough near the high road from Worcester to Pershore, (fn. 132) but its site is now lost. It had probably been destroyed before 1547, when a meadow called Long Mill or Lough Mill Leyes was granted with Allesborough Manor to Sir Ralph Sadleir. (fn. 133) The name was still retained at Allesborough in the 18th century. (fn. 134)
The Beauchamps had a water-mill and a windmill in the manor of Wadborough in the 14th century. (fn. 135) A fishery in Himble Brook followed the descent of the manor of Wadborough from the 16th to the 18th century. A fish-pond in the manor mentioned in 1324 (fn. 136) may be the one which now exists near Caldwell Farm. There is at the present day a cornmill on a tributary of the Bow Brook called Caldwell Mill, which perhaps marks the site of the water-mill of Wadborough. The windmill was probably at Windmill Hill on the Stoulton boundary.
The church of the HOLY CROSS was formerly the church of the mitred Benedictine abbey of St. Mary and St. Eadburga. It consists of an apsidal presbytery with a middle span of 72 ft. 6 in. by 27 ft., north and south aisles 11 ft. 6 in. wide, two pairs of rectangular eastern chapels with a Lady chapel between the eastern pair, a central tower 27 ft. by 28 ft., north transept now partially destroyed, and south transept 37 ft. 6 in. by 30 ft. The destroyed portions include the nave, 180 ft. by 28 ft. 6 in., with aisles 10 ft. 9 in. wide, a chapel east of the north transept and a sacristy east of the south transept. The total length appears to have been about 325 ft. All the measurements are internal.
The earliest portions of the existing fabric appear to date from the end of the 11th and the early years of the 12th century, a re-entry after a fire being recorded in 1102. To this period belong the crossing and south transept and the remaining portions of the nave and north transept. The 12th-century church possesses so many points in common with the neighbouring Benedictine abbey churches of Gloucester and Tewkesbury that it is probable that the destroyed portions resembled them also. The proportions of the nave arcade are very similar to both the churches named and the arrangement of transeptal chapels was very like that at Tewkesbury. The 12th-century presbytery probably terminated in an apse, perhaps on the lines of the existing work, as the irregularity of the spacing of the later arcade argues the use of the foundations of an earlier arcade. The transepts almost certainly had apsidal chapels to the east of them. About 1210 a rebuilding of the east end and chapels appears to have been begun, outside the lines of the earlier presbytery. The eastern arm was burnt down on St. Alban's Day, 1223, and the rebuilding of the presbytery was at once begun at the east end, joined up to the earlier chapels, and extended westward to the crossing. The east end appears to have been complete, when an alteration was made in the Lady chapel, the eastern arch of the main apse being raised and an arch formerly opening into the south-east chapel being blocked up. The new work was consecrated in 1239. About the middle of the century the eastern processional door from the cloister was inserted. Another serious fire occurred in 1288, when the central tower was destroyed and the roofs burnt. The existing tower appears to have been then undertaken and the presbytery was vaulted in stone. Soon after, in the 14th century, several windows were inserted in the presbytery aisles and chapels, and early in the same century a sacristy chapel was built east of the south transept. Under Abbot Newenton (1413–57) the 14th-century vault of the south transept was altered, but little else appears to have been done to the fabric during the 15th century except the insertion of two windows and possibly the general lowering of the pitch of the roofs. Shortly after the surrender of the abbey in 1539 the nave, Lady chapel and sacristy were destroyed with the monastic buildings. The north transept fell down in the 17th century and a raking buttress to support the central tower was erected in 1686. In 1847 an apsidal chapel was built on part of the site of the Lady chapel. The church was restored by Sir Gilbet Scott in 1862–5, when the southern rectangular chapel was largely rebuilt. The pinnacles of the tower were added in 1870.
The presbytery consists of four irregularly spaced bays with a three-sided apse at the east end; the arches are of three deeply moulded and pointed orders resting on elaborately clustered shafts with moulded bases and foliage capitals. The shafting of the eastern arch of the apse and of the adjoining responds of the other two arches is free and of a dark blue stone; in the eastern arch they are banded at half their height. This arch is of two moulded orders only on the west face; it springs from a lower level and rises considerably higher than the adjoining arcades, and appears to be a rather later insertion. The labels of the arcade terminate in foliage stops, and considerably above the crowns of the arches is a moulded string-course at the base of the triforium, banding the vaulting shafts. The triforium and clearstory are combined and present on the inside a triplet of graduated lancet arches in each bay; the jambs and intervening piers are shafted and have moulded bases and foliage capitals. For about 4 ft. above the bases they are filled in with walling forming the base of the triforium passage, but above this the piers stand free and are tied back to the outer walls by stone lintels. The upper part of the central arch is pierced in the outer wall by a lancet window with double-chamfered external jambs and head and a moulded label returned along the face of the wall as a string-course. The eastern bay of the apse is similarly treated, but here there is no clearstory window. This work is all of early 13thcentury date. The presbytery is covered by a stone vault of the early 14th century which springs from triple vaulting shafts between each bay with foliage capitals at the level of the triforium passage and foliage brackets in the spandrels of the main arcade. The vault has moulded, diagonal, ridge and subsidiary ribs with a series of very fine carved foliage bosses at the intersections. The vault of the eastern bay is combined with that over the apse, forming a star-shaped figure on plan. The central boss here is pierced by a hole for hanging a lamp, which seems to indicate that the high altar originally stood some distance in advance of the eastern arch. Though fine, the vault is somewhat low, dwarfing the apparent proportions of the earlier clearstory. Externally the presbytery is finished with an embattled parapet, probably of the 15th century, with a low gable at the end of the apse and five small crocketed pinnacles at its angles. Below the parapet is a moulded corbel table with pointed arches of the 13th century. The thrust of the vault is taken by three flying buttresses on each side with arched soffits and weathered copings; they spring from substantial buttresses on the outer lines of the aisles, finished with panelled and gabled pinnacles with crocketed spirelets, all much restored and of the same date as the vault. Adjoining the south-east pier of the central tower are some remains of the 11thcentury presbytery.
The Lady chapel formerly extended three bays beyond the eastern archway of the main apse and its walls have been located. Only the west bay is now standing and has three acutely pointed and graduated wall arches on the south side; some of the shafts are of Purbeck marble, and the foliated capitals are mostly original. The corresponding wall arcade on the north is more extensively restored, but here again Purbeck marble is employed. The chapel now terminates in a vaulted modern three-sided apse, in which the altar now stands. The aisles now terminate in two rectangular chapels flanking the Lady chapel. The northern chapel (9 ft. 3 in. by 12 ft. 6 in.) has a restored lancet window in the east wall and an original one on the north side; the latter has side shafts with foliated capitals. The capitals of the vaulting shafts are also foliated and the quadripartite vault has moulded ribs and a small foliated boss. The vault is lower than that of the adjoining aisle, into which the chapel opens by a pointed arch, with responds having blue-stone shafts with foliated capitals. Under the window sills runs a moulded string-course and in the east and south walls are moulded and trefoil-headed niches, probably once piscinae, but with no trace of the basins left. In the north wall is a locker. The southern of the pair of chapels (10 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft. 3 in.) has a 14th-century east window of five trefoiled lights under a pointed head and is partly restored. In the south wall is a similar window, but of three lights, and under it is a 13th-century pointed piscina with a restored head and a square projecting bracket for the drain. Traces of an original vault remain, but the quadripartite vault now existing is of the 14th century and springs from short shafts with foliated capitals and resting on head corbels; at the intersection of the ribs is a large foliage boss. This vault was reconstructed at the restoration. These chapels have clasping or flat external buttresses with shafted angles. Immediately to the west of them is a second pair of chapels projecting one bay beyond the aisle to the north and south. The northern one is now filled by the organ and has a three-light 15thcentury east window with a three-centred head and a 13th-century lancet window with shafted jambs internally in the north wall. The quadripartite vault has a small roundel at the intersection of the ribs. Externally this chapel is gabled towards the north and has a clasping buttress at the north-east angle and a pair of the ordinary form at the north-west angle; it appears to be of slightly later build than the adjoining aisle. The southern chapel of the pair (14 ft. 9 in. by 12 ft. 6 in.) was almost entirely rebuilt, with the exception of the west wall, by Sir Gilbert Scott. It has modern lancets on the east and south and a modern door in the south wall. The adjoining bay of the aisle vault was rebuilt at the same time.
The north aisle of the presbytery has a window in the first bay consisting of three lancets grouped under a round external head; the next two bays have each a 13th-century lancet window with double-chamfered external and shafted internal jambs. The fourth bay has an' internal shafted recess to correspond, but no window. The external eaves corbelling is a modern copy of the original corbelling on the adjoining chapel. In the external wall of the two western bays are fixed two inverted conical roof corbels, probably of the 15th century and indicating the position of a former north transeptal chapel. Its eastern termination is difficult to determine, as one corbel closely adjoins the west jamb of the last window on this side. The aisle is covered with a quadripartite ribbed vault similar to those in the adjoining chapels. The south aisle of the presbytery has in each of the first two bays a late 14th-century window of five lights with a pointed head, uncusped tracery and perpendicular mullions. In the third bay is a lancet window and in the fourth a moulded and pointed 14th-century arch, now blocked, but formerly opening into the sacristy chapel. The vault of the south aisle is similar to that on the north.
The north transept is now destroyed except for one bay adjoining the central tower. The side walls are of the early 12th century, and it is closed in on the north by a 17th-century wall with two heavy buttresses incorporating the remains of the earlier side walls. The eastern buttress has a long raking coping terminating with a heavy pedestal surmounted by a ball and inscribed, 'This Buttrice erected 1686. John Clark, Minister, William Gesud, John Marriott Churchwardens.' In the wall beneath it is the south respond with a cushion capital of the 12th-century arch of a transeptal chapel. Further south in the east wall is a badly distorted round arch of the same date, opening into the presbytery aisle and having shafted responds with enriched cushion capitals; it is now filled in and has a square-headed doorway with a wooden lintel in the filling. Above this arch part of a blocked triforium arch remains. In the north wall of the transept is a late square-headed window of five large trefoiled lights and having a wooden bead. Below it is a doorway with a fourcentred head, formerly covered by a porch, which is now removed. In the west wall is the blocked arch to the north nave aisle. It is round-headed and of one order with shafted responds and is of very tall proportions. Portions of a 12th-century stringcourse are visible on the inner or east face of the buttress to this wall. The transept was formerly vaulted in stone, and remains of a 12th-century vault remain against the north face of the central tower. The south transept is still intact and projects three bays to the south of the crossing; the walls are of late 11th or early 12th-century date. In the east wall is a round-headed arch of two orders with a bold roll in the angle, opening into the presbytery aisle; the responds are shafted. Further south is a wide arch of similar character, formerly opening into a transeptal chapel, but now blocked up. Under it is a moulded cornice with a series of eight elaborately cusped panel-heads, probably part of a 15th-century reredos to a side altar and erected after the destruction of the original transept chapel. To the south is a round-headed 12th-century window with the internal jambs now lacking their shafts. The triforium on this side shows two blocked round arches, one over the presbytery aisle, and one, unusually large, over the chapel arch and similar to the corresponding feature at Tewkesbury Abbey, where it opens to an upper chapel. Above the window further south the triforium passage has an open arcade of three small round arches resting on cylindrical shafts with cushion capitals and moulded bases. The clearstory passage has similar arches placed singly and at intervals, two to each bay; the jambs are shafted and some are partially concealed by the later vaulting. The south end of the transept has at the ground level a wall arcade, returning also along the east wall as far as the chapel arch. The arches are round with cheveron flutings divided by lines of nailhead ornament; it rested on shafts, all of which have now gone. The triforium passage has an open arcade to the church of two divisions, the eastern of five and the western of three small arches similar to those in the east wall. The 12th-century clearstory had a similar arcade with richly ornamented shafts and capitals, but of these only two arches at each end remain, the rest of the wall at this level being occupied by a large 13th-century triple lancet window under a pointed arch. Below the sill are three pierced stone panels. In the south-west angle is a large vice partly inclosed in a segmental projection towards the church. It was no doubt used as the night stair from the dorter. Externally the transept end has a broad pilaster buttress in the middle and clasping buttresses at the angles, all of two orders, and the middle one stopping below the 13th-century clearstory window. Across the base of the gable runs a rich cable moulding and above it are the remains of an elaborate interlacing wall arcade, the arches enriched with cheveron ornament and the shafts having cushion capitals. The side portions were cut away when the roof pitch was lowered, probably in the 15th century. The pitch has now been again raised, though not to its original height. In the west wall of the transept is a threelight 15th-century window with a pointed head and a blocked arch to the south nave aisle. The transept was vaulted from the first, but the present vault is of the 14th century. It springs from plain corbels and has ridge, diagonal and intermediate ribs and a series of carved bosses at the intersections. Amongst these are a number of shields bearing (1) three cups quartering a chief indented, (2) the same coats impaled, (3) two keys saltirewise, (4) the rebus, W. Newn followed by a tun, for William Newenton, abbot (1413-57). The crowns of the wall ribs have bosses in the form of ball-flowers.
The central tower rests on four early 12th-century semicircular arches, those on the north and south having a higher springing level than the others. They are all of two plain orders with pointed relieving arches above them. The east arch has two attached shafts to each respond supporting the inner order and having fluted and voluted capitals on the north and scalloped capitals on the south. The transept arches are similar, but the capitals to the north arch are plain and those on the west of the south arch have three demi-figures carved on each capital. The western or nave arch is now blocked and rests on corbels, plain on the south but sculptured on the north. In the wall under are two modern windows with a door beneath them. The 12th-century work of the tower terminates internally with an enriched string-course above these arches. The stage over is an open lantern, which forms the finest and most remarkable feature of the church. The work belongs to the close of the 13th century, the side walls being pierced by two galleries opening into the interior by a series of lofty two-light openings and panels, four on each side of the tower, and having a blank trefoil-headed panel dividing them into pairs; the heads are pointed and traceried, and the jambs and mullions, all of which are elaborately shafted, have a band of carved work at about half their height. Near the base is an embattled transom, carried completely round and having trefoil-headed lights or panels beneath it; it forms the roof line of the lower gallery, the floor of the upper gallery being some 4 ft. above. The outer walls of this stage are each pierced by two tall windows, each of two lights with pointed and traceried heads. Between this stage and the next is a moulded external string-course with ballflower ornament and an embattled cresting. The bell-chamber above bears a remarkable resemblance to a similar stage of the central tower at Salisbury Cathedral. Each face has two tall two-light windows with traceried and pointed heads and shafted jambs and mullions; beyond them are two similar blind panels, making four in all, and being surmounted by panelled gables with square shafts and gabled pinnacles at each side. The tower is finished with a moulded string-course ornamented with plain balls and a plain parapet. At each angle are semi-octagonal projections finished with lofty modern pinnacles. Evidence of the former high-pitched roofs existed on all four faces of the tower.
The destroyed nave probably consisted of ten bays with a deep west respond, as has been deduced from partial excavation. The only portions remaining are those adjoining the tower and transepts and the eastern processional door from the cloister. The two eastern responds of the arcades are of massive half-cylindrical form with moulded capitals, and it is evident that in their unusual height they closely resembled Serlo's work at Gloucester and the nave at Tewkesbury. Traces of the start of an external wall arcade at the clearstory level are visible on both sides. The aisles opened into the transepts by tall and narrow round-headed arches. A fragment of the outer wall of the south aisie remains and incloses the fine 13thcentury processional door from the cloister. It is pointed and of three moulded orders with shafted jambs, having capitals foliated on the east and moulded on the west.
The sacristy was a rectangular 14th-century building standing in the angle between the presbytery and south transept. It had a vaulted roof springing from a central column and wall shafts, and the springers of the vault remain on the wall of the presbytery aisle. One jamb of an east window is built up in the aisle buttress, and against the west or transept wall is a handsome wall arcade of four bays. The southernmost bay is considerably earlier than the others and all have shafted jambs with foliated capitals and moulded bases, trefoiled heads and moulded and crocketed gables. Above the earlier panel are two half quatrefoil panels and under the arch is a roomy locker with rebated jambs.
The church contains several interesting monuments. In the south transept is a freestone effigy in mail armour of about 1280, with a horn in the right hand, a long shield on the left arm with a grotesque beast biting the point; the legs are crossed and broken off below the knees. Near it is an altar tomb, the front panelled with cinquefoils and supporting a freestone recumbent effigy apparently vested in surplice or habit with a small hood; the head rests on a mitre, but the whole is much defaced and is probably of early 15th-century date. Against the west wall of the same transept is an elaborate late 16th-century monument to a member of the Haselwood family; on a panelled base rests the armed recumbent effigy of a man, at his head kneels a lady and at his feet a man in civilian attire. A flat canopy with an entablature round is supported on three black marble Corinthian columns. On the cornice is a repainted shield of arms. Against the west wall of the north transept is a monument to Fulk Haselwood and Dorothea his wife, with nine kneeling figures of children in relief on the front and an arched canopy flanked by Corinthian columns; on the cornice is an impaled shield. In the presbytery are brass inscriptions to Chrysogon wife of John Eames, who died in 1670, and Cecilia her daughter, 1671; to John Eames, who died in 1701, and to Richard Roberts, his wife and children, 1739, &c. On the southeast pier of the tower are traces of a large painting of a seated king, now very indistinct. Four of the stalls on the north side are of 15th-century date and have carved arm rests, the seats are modern. In the south presbytery aisle and in one of the eastern chapels are some old slip tiles bearing designs of three cups, three covered cups, the Beauchamp arms, fleur de lis, &c. Preserved in the south transept is a portion of fine oak screen work, painted blue and inscribed in gilt letters, 'M.C. bis bino triplex x addere quarto Anno Will[elmu]s d[omin]i Newnton fec[it] Abbas'; on one side is a king's head with the inscription H.VI. a°x°ij and on the other a mitred abbot's head and crosier with the letters W.N. a°xx°ij.
A 12th-century font was given after one of the restorations of the church by the vicar to the owner of 'The Nash,' Kempsey, near Worcester, and is still there.
There are eight bells, the tenor, second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh by Abraham Rudhall, 1729, the fourth recast by Barwell, 1894, and the treble by Mears of London, 1814.
The plate consists of a modern set given in 1870 and a cup given in 1880.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1540 to 1641; (ii) all entries 1682 to 1727; (iii) baptisms and burials 1728 to 1805, marriages 1728 to 1754; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1792; (v) baptisms and burials 1805 to 1812; (vi) marriages 1792 to 1812. In the beginning of the first volume the church is referred to as 'Holy Cross otherwise called St. Eadburge.'
The monastic buildings lay on the south of the church and have suffered complete demolition. The cloister, part of the foundations of which have come to light, was about 100 ft. square, and traces of the pent roof are visible on the nave and south transept walls. In the angle is a buttress with a small locker in the west face and a shafted angle supporting a roof corbel; two more corbels remain on the west wall of the transept. Adjoining this transept on the south was a slype or passage, but all traces of the roof have been removed and of the wall arcade formerly existing within it only two shaft bases on either side of the central buttress remain. The dorter probably occupied the first floor of the eastern range, and the rake of its gable is visible at the end of the south transept. A large archway formerly standing at the north of the present churchyard was pulled down in 1830. The existing abbey-house, now occupied by monks formerly of Caldey Island, contains no ancient features.
The chapel of ST. BARNABAS at Drake's Broughton is a modern building of brick faced with stone and consists of a chancel, nave, a vestry south of the chancel, south porch, and a timber bell-turret with a boarded spirelet. The style employed is 14th-century Gothic and the church has a three-light east window and a timber chancel arch. It is a chapel of ease to Holy Cross, Pershore.
The nave of the conventual church of St. Eadburga of Pershore was used as a parish church by the tenants of the abbey, probably from the foundation of the abbey. The parochial altar was dedicated to the Holy Cross, (fn. 137) and the parochial part of the church later became known as the church of Holy Cross and was taxed under that name in 1340 and 1428. (fn. 138) The chaplain serving here was provided by the monks of Pershore. (fn. 139)
After the Dissolution, the greater part of the church of Holy Cross having been destroyed, the inhabitants purchased the bells and made some repairs to the remaining parts of the church before the end of the reign of Edward VI, (fn. 140) but they seem to have had some difficulty in raising sufficient money to support a chaplain. (fn. 141) After the dissolution of the abbey and before the suppression of the chantry the chantry priest had perhaps served as chaplain. In 1572 the rectory of Holy Cross, which had been leased in 1541 for twenty-one years to Conan Richardson, (fn. 142) was granted to certain of the inhabitants for twenty-one years for the provision of a stipend of £6 for the minister and 53s.4d. for bread and wine in the church. (fn. 143) Further grants of the rectory were made in 1589 and 1613, (fn. 144) and in 1630 Richard Chambers died seised of it. (fn. 145) His nephew William had livery of it in 1632. (fn. 146) This property, which afterwards seems to have been known as the rectory manor of Holy Cross, evidently passed with that manor of Wadborough which had formerly belonged to Pershore Abbey to the Earls of Coventry. (fn. 147) The owners of the property provided the salary of the curate who performed the services in the church of Holy Cross, and had the right of choosing this curate. His stipend was augmented from £6 to £11 before 1585. (fn. 148) The augmentation was probably raised by a rate from the inhabitants of Holy Cross, (fn. 149) and at the end of the 18th century the vicar of St. Andrew's, who was also the curate of Holy Cross, tried to vary the payments made by the parishioners. (fn. 150) Until 1729 the curacy of Holy Cross had been held as a separate benefice, but after that date the vicars of St. Andrew's became curates of Holy Cross, and it was probably at this date that the patronage passed to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, (fn. 151) Holy Cross thus becoming a chapelry of St. Andrew's, as it remains at the present day. When Drake's Broughton was inclosed in 1801–2 the inhabitants of Holy Cross, wishing to increase the salary of their minister, allotted to him land to the value of £30. (fn. 152)
The right of sepulture of people dying in many of the surrounding parishes belonged to the church of Holy Cross at Pershore. All those who held land at Pershore, Besford, Defford, Birlingham, Wick, Brickle hampton, Eckington, Strensham, Pirton, Severn Stoke, Naunton Beauchamp, Great and Little Comberton, Peopleton, North Piddle, Abberton, Flyford Flavell, Broughton Hackett, Martin Hussingtree and Upton Snodsbury had to be buried at Pershore, while those who did not hold land were buried in the churchyard at Little Comberton. (fn. 153) This practice evidently dates back to the time when Pershore Abbey after its foundation served a large district round.
There were chapels at Wadborough, Allesborough, Thorndon and Harley. The first is mentioned in 1260, when an agreement was made between the Abbot of Pershore and William Beauchamp that all those dying at Sheriffes Heye should be buried at Pershore, while half the heriots should go to Pershore and the other half to William's free chapel at Wadborough. (fn. 154) The chapel is not again mentioned.
A rent of 18d. which his ancestors had granted to the chapel of St. Giles at Allesborough was confirmed by Roger son of Robert de Walcot to Simon Abbot of Pershore (1175–98), and his charter was confirmed by the king in 1317. (fn. 155) Nothing further is known of this chapel.
Oblations from Richard Thorgrim's chapel at Thorndon and from the lord of Harley's chapel are mentioned in 1389 among the rents held by the inner sacristy of Pershore Abbey. (fn. 156) The chapel at Thorndon was in existence in the 13th century, Roger Abbot of Pershore (1234–50) granting licence to Maurice de Thorndon to found a chantry in this chapel. (fn. 157)
Reference to a chapel of St. Michael at Pershore occurs in 1302, when Adam the chaplain was cited for clandestinely performing the service of matrimony in it. (fn. 158) This may have been the chapel, mentioned above, under the present Capital and Counties Bank.
In 1345 Adam de Harvington (fn. 159) founded in the nave of the church of St. Eadburga of Pershore (fn. 160) a chantry of two priests to pray for the souls of Adam and Guy Earl of Warwick and for the health of Thomas Earl of Warwick and his wife Catherine. (fn. 161) The presentations were made by the Abbots of Pershore. (fn. 162) In 1368 William de Morton, clerk, augmented this chantry by a gift of land in Pershore and Walcot, and John de Goderington, then the chantry priest, and his father and mother were to participate in its benefits. (fn. 163) In 1514 it was found that the revenues were insufficient to maintain two priests, and the foundation was reduced to one chaplain. (fn. 164) The Abbot of Pershore probably appropriated (fn. 165) the endowments of the chantry, for at the Dissolution the church of Holy Cross was returned as appropriated to the abbey, a stipend of £6 being provided for the chaplain, (fn. 166) who may have been also the curate of Holy Cross mentioned above. After the dissolution of the abbey this stipend was paid by the king's receiver (fn. 167) until the chantry was suppressed.
In 1515 Christopher Westerdale granted an annuity from his house in the High Street for the maintenance of 'Seynt Johnys Masse' in the chapel of St. John the Baptist in the conventual church of Pershore. The rent was to be received by the master of the chapel of St. Mary the Virgin in the monastery of Pershore. (fn. 168)
By an undated petition the Abbot and convent of Pershore prayed licence for two of their monks to chant perpetually at the altar of St. Lawrence in the abbey church for the souls of Walter Hewet, Agnes his mother, Amice his wife and Hugh his father. (fn. 169)
The charities are dealt with under St. Andrew's parish.