A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.
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Recesford (xi cent.); Ratheford (xiii cent.); Ratchefford (xiv cent.).
Rochford was formerly a detached part of Herefordshire, but was annexed to Worcestershire by the Acts of 1832 (fn. 1) and 1844. (fn. 2) It is on the right bank of the Teme, which forms its northern boundary. The church overlooks the Teme and is about a quarter of a mile west of a ferry across that river. The rectory is about a mile away on the western boundary of the parish. There are three or four houses near the church, and some scattered houses and farms. The Court House, now in the occupation of Mr. Thomas Lowe, immediately to the south-east of the church, is a 17th-century half-timber farm-house of two stories and an attic, with a modern brick east front and tiled roofs. There is a 17th-century half-timber cottage to the east of the church on the Eastham road and another to the south-east at the junction of the Tenbury and Upper Rochford roads. The Old Hall, on the Tenbury road to the south of the church, is a small rectangular stone house of two stories and an attic, with tiled roofs. Over a small projecting entrance porch on the north, now rebuilt, is a stone reset inscribed 'P.M. 1704.' The house retains its original wood framed windows and leaded lights and original brick central chimney.
Upper Rochford is near the middle of the parish, on the road from Worcester to Tenbury. It contains Rochford House, a Primitive Methodist chapel, the school, and some 18th-century brick cottages. About a quarter of a mile south of Rochford House, on the southern boundary of the parish, is a moat.
The highest ground in the parish is in the southeast, where a height of over 500 ft. is reached. To the north the land falls to the valley of the Teme. The parish has an area of 1,372 acres, and consists largely of pasture land. (fn. 3) The soil is clay, the subsoil Old Red Sandstone, the chief crops grown being corn, hops, and apples.
ROCHFORD is said to have been held by the monastery of Worcester until, in the reign of Edmund Ironside, Earl Ronig deprived the church of it amongst other manors in Herefordshire. (fn. 4) In 1086 there were two manors at Rochford; one, consisting of 1½ hides, was held by Durand of Gloucester and Walter, his nephew, as successors to Leuenot, the other was held by Drew Fitz Ponz and had been previously held by Ulmer. (fn. 5) Drew's estate passed to Richard Fitz Ponz, who is thought to have been his brother. (fn. 6) Richard married Maud daughter of Walter de Gloucester, (fn. 7) and probably acquired with her the other manor at Rochford. Walter son of Richard assumed the surname Clifford, (fn. 8) and was succeeded by a son Walter, on whose death in 1221 the overlordship of Rochford passed to his son Walter, (fn. 9) who was holding it as part of his honour of Clifford in 1242. (fn. 10) On his death in 1263 (fn. 11) the honour of Clifford passed to his nephew Roger. Robert, grandson and successor of Roger, was summoned to Parliament as Lord de Clifford in 1299, (fn. 12) and the overlordship from that time followed the descent of the barony (fn. 13) until 1443, when it is mentioned for the last time. (fn. 14)
At the date of the Domesday Survey Widard held Rochford under Durand of Gloucester and Walter his nephew, Drew Fitz Ponz apparently having no under-tenant. (fn. 15) Rochford was probably held by the lords of Clifford in demesne until, on the marriage of Lucy daughter of the first Walter de Clifford with Hugh de Say, the manor was given to her. (fn. 16) She with her husband granted the mill of Rochford to Haughmond Abbey. (fn. 17) Hugh died about 1190, (fn. 18) and Rochford appears to have passed to his second son Richard. (fn. 19) Richard probably died without issue, for the manor of Rochford afterwards reverted to the heirs of his elder brother Hugh. Margery de Say, one of the daughters and co-heirs of Hugh, (fn. 20) married Robert Mortimer, and Rochford must have been assigned to her or to her son Hugh, who died seised of it in 1274. (fn. 21) On the death of his son and successor Robert in 1287 (fn. 22) Rochford seems to have passed for life to Robert's younger son William, commonly called La Zouche. (fn. 23) As William Mortimer of Rochford he received protection when going to Scotland on the king's service in 1296. (fn. 24) He died in March 1335–6, (fn. 25) and the manor apparently reverted to the heirs of his brother Hugh Mortimer of Richard's Castle, i.e., his daughters Joan wife of Thomas Bykenore, and afterwards of Sir Richard Talbot, and Margaret wife of Geoffrey Cornwall. (fn. 26) The moiety which fell to the share of Joan followed the descent of Cotheridge (q.v.), passing in 1534 to Sir Robert Acton. (fn. 27) The capital messuage of the manor had, however, been acquired before 1531 by Richard Acton, father of Sir Robert, for he settled it in that year on his son Thomas in fee-tail. (fn. 28) Thomas died in 1546, when the capital messuage passed to his daughter Joyce, wife of Thomas Lucy of Charlcote. (fn. 29) Joyce died in 1596 and her husband in 1600, their heir being a son, Sir Thomas Lucy. (fn. 30) The moiety of the manor had passed before 1612 to Henry Hackluit, son of Thomas Hackluit and of Fortune daughter of Sir Robert Acton of Ribbesford mentioned above, (fn. 31) who then conveyed it, as the manor of Rochford, to Philip Morris. (fn. 32) Philip and his son John lived together at Rochford, and in 1637 Thomas Morris, son of John, died seised of the chief messuage and farm of Rochford, leaving as his heirs three sisters, Mary, Joan, and Elizabeth. (fn. 33) There is no further record of this moiety until 1725, when it was held by five co-heirs. Richford Reddes and Anne his wife (in whose right it was held) then conveyed one-fifth of the manor to Francis Sellway, (fn. 34) one-fifth was conveyed to William King by Richard Adams and Martha his wife, (fn. 35) and three-fifths to Thomas King by Nathaniel Whitefoot and Elizabeth his wife, John Markes and Joan his wife, and James Johnson and Sarah his wife. (fn. 36) The messuages and lands in Rochford which Thomas Giffard of Chillington, co. Staff., settled on his wife Barbara daughter of Robert Throckmorton in 1761 and 1763, and on his third wife France Stonor in 1769, (fn. 37) may have been part of this property, but an estate at Rochford remained with the family of Morris until about the end of the 19th century, when it was purchased by Mr. Edward Vincent Vashon Wheeler. (fn. 38) The greater part of Upper Rochford was purchased about 1908 of the family of Mr. E. F. Williams by Mrs. Catherine Jones of Penrhiwceiber, Glamorganshire, the present owner. (fn. 39)
The moiety of Rochford which fell to the share of Margaret and Geoffrey Cornwall passed with a moiety of the manor of Ham Castle in the Cornwall family until 1528. (fn. 40) Ham Castle was then sold, but Rochford was retained by Sir Thomas Cornwall, from whom it passed in 1537 to his son Richard, (fn. 41) who died in 1569. (fn. 42) Richard's son Edmund died unmarried in 1585, (fn. 43) and was succeeded by his brother Thomas, who married Catherine daughter of John Harley of Brampton Bryan, co. Hereford, and was succeeded in 1615 (fn. 44) by his son, another Thomas, who married Anne daughter of Gilbert Lyttelton. (fn. 45) Thomas died seised of the manor of Rochford in 1637, and was succeeded by his son Gilbert, who married Elizabeth daughter of Sir Thomas Reade. (fn. 46) Gilbert died in 1671, (fn. 47) when his son Thomas succeeded. (fn. 48) In 1709 Thomas Cornwall, who had succeeded his father, the last-named Thomas, in 1686, conveyed it to his son Francis Cornwall, (fn. 49) who in the same year, with his wife Mary, sold it to Sir Edward Leighton and Salwey Winnington. (fn. 50) The manor then descended with Stanford (q.v.) in the Winnington family (fn. 51) until 1837, when it was sold by Sir Thomas Edward Winnington to Vincent Wood Wheeler. (fn. 52) He was succeeded by his son Edward Vincent Wheeler, on whose death in 1885 (fn. 53) the manor passed to his son Mr. Edward Vincent Vashon Wheeler of Newnham Court, the present lord of the manor.
Rochford Mill was granted to the monks of Haughmond by Hugh de Say and Lucy his wife, this grant being confirmed by subsequent lords of the manor. (fn. 54) A water-mill was held with the moiety of the manor which belonged to Thomas Vaux Lord Harrowden in 1534–5, but is not subsequently mentioned, (fn. 55) and there is no mill at Rochford at the present day.
The church of ST. MICHAEL consists of a chancel 18 ft. 4 in. by 15 ft. 6 in., north vestry, nave 45 ft. 8 in. by 17 ft. 10 in., south porch, and wood bell-turret at the west end of the nave roof. These dimensions are all internal.
The chancel and the greater part of the nave date from the early years of the 12th century, the south doorway and the south window in the chancel being insertions of the early 14th century, when probably the north doorway was blocked; the vestry, the timber south porch, and the western quarter of the nave are modern. The church is built of red sandstone ashlar, which has been repaired in places, and the walls of the nave are plastered internally.
The chancel has a modern east window. In the north wall is an early 12th-century round-headed light and immediately to the west of it is a modern doorway to the vestry. In the south wall is a window of two trefoiled lights, the jambs and rear arch of which are probably of the 14th century, but the unpierced tracery is modern. On the east side of the sill there is a trefoiled piscina with an ogee head and a large circular bowl split across the centre; the head is modern, but the rest probably dates from the 14th century. The semicircular chancel arch is of original 12th-century date, and is of two cheveron-moulded orders on the west, with one plain order on the east. The jambs are square and have moulded imposts, much repaired, which are continued on the west face to the side walls of the nave.
In the north wall of the nave there is an original round-headed single-light window, and west of it is a fine but rather weather-worn early 12th-century doorway, now blocked. It projects externally 9 in. beyond the wall face and has a semicircular head of two cheveron-moulded orders inclosed by a hollow-chamfered label, and resting on large engaged shafts with rudimentary leaf capitals and chamfered abaci, the abaci being enriched on the east by a chain ornament, and on the west by a kind of scale. The tympanum is carved in low relief with a conventional tree having flowing leaves, somewhat of the type of the Greek anthemion, growing from a central stem within a semicircular border formed by conjoined circles, each containing a six-pointed star; the lower edge is enriched with a cable moulding. The bases of the jamb shafts are buried beneath the grass. The south-east window is modern; to the west of it is an acutely pointed doorway of the 14th century with a wide sunk moulding which is continued down the jambs and has no stops. The internal jambs are carried beyond the wall face and form internal buttresses. Immediately to the west of this doorway is an early 12thcentury round-headed light. The western quarter of the nave is modern and has a single trefoiled light in the south wall and a threelight window in the west wall. The wooden bellturret has an octagonal tiled spire and contains two bells. (fn. 56)
There is a modern match-boarded wagon roof over the chancel, and the nave has a king-post roof in three bays; the trussed rafters of the east bay of the latter roof are probably of the 14th century, but the rest is modern.
The altar, font and pulpit are all modern. In the vestry is a small 17th-century oak table with turned legs, which probably served as the altar for some time. At the west end of the nave and in the vestry are some plain old oak bench ends with modern seats. Over the blocked doorway in the nave is a hatchment with the Hanoverian royal arms.
The communion plate consists of a silver chalice and paten of 1864.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1561 to 1714; (ii) all entries 1715 to 1754, baptisms and burials to 1772; (iii) baptisms and burials 1773 to 1812; (iv) marriages 1755 to 1812.
Rochford was a chapelry of Tenbury (fn. 57) until 3 April 1843 when it became a separate rectory. (fn. 58) The advowson was held from 1856 to 1866 by Charles Severne, from 1867 to 1880 by J. P. Jones, and from 1881 to the present day by the Rev. George James Monnington. (fn. 59)
By an undated deed R. Bishop of Hereford gave licence for a cemetery to be made at Rochford. A payment of 3s. was to be made yearly to the mother church. (fn. 60)
John Turner, by his will dated 10 July 1753, (fn. 61) bequeathed £100 for the poor. In respect of this legacy a yearly payment of £3 10s. is secured on houses in Rochford, Eastham and Tenbury. The official trustees also hold a sum of £17 13s. 11d. consols, producing 8s. 8d. yearly, representing investment of arrears of the rent-charge.
Philip Morris, who died in 1803, by his will, left a legacy, now represented by £164 3s. 10d. consols, with the official trustees, the annual dividends, amounting to £4 2s., to be applied for the benefit of religious and industrious poor at Christmas.
The income from these charities is distributed yearly on or about 1 January to about thirty poor people in sums varying from 10s. 6d. to 1s.