England.) George May (of Evesham.

A descriptive history of the town of Evesham, from the foundation of its ... online

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A descriptive history of the town of
Evesham, from the foundation of...

George May


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AT length my promised volume is concluded ; wherein I have
striven to present in a useful and attractive form the hbtory
of a locality which has now during seventeen years contained
my home. Nor have I here omitted opportunities to preserve
by the pencil and the graving-tool a faithful resemblance of
interesting objects, the originals of which are — in some instances
— already marred or modified since the drawings were made.

Should the result of all my labor prove ^isfcuiory to those
for whom I write — and should additional copies of the book, for
this cause, quit my shelves, to enter the libraries of topographers,
or to be hailed elsewhere as memorative of a well-known spot
by those who have *speh^ eome portion of their time within its
bounds, — ^my fullest expectajbions will be then achieved.

G. M.


Skptembsr, 1845.

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" Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill,
Ch«en and of mild declivitj ; &e last.
As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such,
Save that there was no sea to lave its hase.
But a most living landscape : and the wave —
Of woods and cornfields, and the abodes of men

Scattered at intervals "


•••••• • •• • <

••••••• ••

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Sitoation of ETesham, and Origin of its Name 13

Foundation of the Monasteiy — Its earlier History — ^Possessions — Privileges —

Cells 21

Architectural Surrey of the Church and Monastery — Magnificence of those

Edifices — ^their present Remains 39

Benedictine Usages — Regulations of this Monastery — Conventual and other

ancient Seals 69

Biographical Notices of Abbots^ and Incidental History of the Abbey 91

Suppression of the Monastery — Valuation of its Revenue — ^Transfer of its

lAud in Demesne 135

Evesham in its Infancy — Condition at the Conquest — Subsequent Importance

— ^Appearance at the Present Day 153

Chapel of St. Lawrence, in the Deaneiy and vrithin the Precincts of the Mo-
nastery 167

Chapel of All-saints, in the Deanery and within the Precincts of the Monastery 181

Gbammar-school — Halls — and Meeting-Houses 193

Bengeworth Division of the Town — ^Free^chool — Chapel of St. Peter, within
the Deanery of the Monastery — ^Transfer of the entire Parish from the
Possession of Evesham Abbey 213

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Parochial Chapelries in the Vale, originally comprised within the Deaoeiy of

the Monastery - 229

Civil and Municipal Institutions : from the Auglo-sazon era to the Present

Time 249


Elective and Parliamentary History 275

Associations — Free-Schools — Population — Employment — Pecuniary Tokens

— Local Courts — Assessments — Noticeable Customs — Markets* and Fain 305
The Career of Symon de Montfort— The Battle of Evesham 323

Military Occurrences at Evesham during the Commonwealth 343

Navigation — Bridges — Military Stations — ^and Roads .... 353

Distinguished Individuals ; Natives of^ or Residents in^ Evesham .373

Charitable Donations and Bequests — ^together with Parochial Property . 389

Chronological Record — Concluding Observations 405

GLEAKiiras IN Natural History^ within thb Nsiohbourhood of Eybsham.

I. — ^Characteristic and Rare Plants 419

II. — Aquatic and Land Shells 422

III.~Fos8il8 423

Appendix of Dooumbntb and Inscriptions.

I. — Letter from Clement Abbot of Evesham, to Cromwell Lord Privy Seal 429
II. — Unpublished Letter from Philip Abbot of Evesham, to Cromwell Lord

Privy Seal 430

III. — Original Letter from the Abbot and Convent of Evesham, to Crom-
well Lord Privy Seal ift.

IV. — Letter from Philip Hoby, esq. to John Scudamore, esq. 432

V. — Conventual Lists of Benefactors to the Monastery ... iib,

VI. — Charter of William I. confirming to the Abbey of Evesham Lands

in the Sheriffdom of Warwick 434

VII.— Charter granted by William II. to the Abbey . .435

VIII. — Charter of Henry I. containing a Grant of the Hundred of Blaca-
hurste to the Abbot and Monks of Evesham .... ib,

IX. — Valuation of the Abbey Possessions, as given by the Royal Com-
missioners .......... 436

X. — Arms and Inscriptions in the Church of St. Lawrence . 438

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XI. — Amu and Inacripeions in All-saints' charch .... 440

XII. — Arms and Inscriptions in Bengeworth Church . .449

XIII. — Abstract of Three Municipal Charters, abrogated by the Issue and

Restoration of the Governing Charter of James 1 451

XIV.— The Governing Charter, at large 454

XV. — Constitntions of the Borough of Evesham 484

XYI. — Report on the Corporation of Evesham .... 490

XVII. — Bje-Laws, made by the Council of the Borough of Evesham 495

Tbxtual Imbbz, ih thbbs diyisohs, — Pbbsoks, Plaobs, aud Subjbcts.

Thb Nambs of Subscbibbrs to thb Work.


1. The Market-Place Frontispiece.

2. Vignette of Premises in Bridge-street . .11

3. Initial Letter : Ethelred, king of Mercia, presenting his Charter to St.

Ecgwin. — From the Re vene of the Abbey Seal .13

4. Ground Plan of the Abbey Church 44

5. Pilkrs from the Nave of the Abbey Church 45

6. Monks performing the last offices 51

7. Entrance to the Vestibule of the Chapter-house 53

8. The Bell Tower of the Monastery 54

9. Diagram of proposed Clock-£sce 55

10. Marble Lectern, from the Abbey 57

11. Remains of the Almonry, next the Gburdens 63

12. Conventual Chair 66

13. Abbot of Evesham, temp. Henry VIII 75

14. Monks studjring in tiie Cloister ....... 77

15. Obverse of Conventual Seal 87

16. Arms of Evesham Monastery 93

17. Crosier, Chalice, Paten, and Ring, from Abbot Worcester's Coffin . 113

18. Papal Seal, from Abbot Chyryton's Coffin 118

19. Abbot Havford's Tomb, Worcester Cathedral 133

20. Crown Hotel 160

21. The Bridge, from the site of Bengeworth Castle . , . . .165

22. Remains of Abbot Reginald's GUtehouse, bounding the Abbey Precincts 167

23. Parish Churches and Abbey Tower, in 1841 . .171

24. Bas-Relief upon St. Lawrence Tower 172

25. Chantry in the Church of St. Lawrence 176

26. Interior of All-saints' Church and its Chantry . . 185

27. Abbot Lichfield's Porch, at the Grammar-school . . .196

28. Presbyterian Meeting-house 206

29. Alderman Deacle's School 217

30. Church of St. Peter, Bengeworth 219

31. Diagram of an ancient Altar, in Bengeworth Church .... 220

32. Font, Altar^ and Credence-table, in the same .... 227

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33. Norton Chuicb, in 1843 232

84. Abbey Tytbe-Bam, at Littleton 238

35. Map of "The Deanery of the Vale " 247

36. The Borough Seal— actual size 259

37. Borough Arms— from the Reverse of the Seal 260

38. The Battle Field and Leicester Tower 341

39. The Riyer, from the Abbey Deer-park 354

40. The Bridge, on the Bengeworth side 361

41. Effigy of sir Thomas Bigg, M. P. for Evesham, in Norton Church . 415

42. Niche and Effigy, in the head of the Chapter-house Arch . 497

43. Oak Panel from the Monastery, — copied as a border on the back of the Volume.

44. Bell Tower, Spires, and Chapter Arch, — grouped as a die upon the cover of the


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Extract from the Freface to the Edition of 1834.

'< THE reasons that induced the Writer to oommence the present
History, have already appeared before the public, in the first pros-
pectus of his intended Work, issued during the autumn of the pre-
ceding year ; in which, among other particulars, it was remarked,
that not even a ''Guide" connected with this locality has appeared
during the space of fourteen years. For an attempt to supply this
consequent deficiency, it is possible that the author — a stranger to
this borough seren years ago — ^may appear in some degree liable
to the charge of presumption. But, as fur as certain portions of
such a work must necessarily connect themselves with conventual
and architectural subjects, that charge may, perhaps, in some de-
gree be set aside ; since he has from an early period delighted to
roam amid the erections of our fore&thers, and to indulge in the
historical and ardueological associations that connect themselves
therewith. And, in the present '' Histoiy," as regards a later era^
as well as still more recent events — ^wherever his own researches
have failed, and he has consequently required from others that
information which protracted residence on their part has qualified

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them to impart — ^he has thankfdllj to acknowledge the readiness
and urbanity with which such information has almost unifonnly
been conveyed."

Of the Edition to which the foregoing obseryations were prefixed,
upwards of six hundred copies have now been sold. The author,
sensible of the favor with which his exertions have been thus re-
ceived, is now desirous to submit a more finished work to the
perusal of his readers, — ^the former volume having Laboured under
the disadvantage of being written, printed, and published, within
little more than twelve months ; — ^while he has at the same time
desired to employ much additional information collected since. In
effecting this to his own satisfi&ction, in some degree, he has found
it desirable to re-write the greater portion of the volume ; and thus
it may probably derive some advantage from the consideration of
maturer years.

In acknowledging the aid which has been most obligingly given
him while preparing the former as well as present edition of the
work, he has much pleasure in tendering his thanks to Sir Thomas
Phillipps, Bart., to whose ample library he has had frequent access;
to the Bev. Dr. Bandinel, keeper of the Bodleian Library, for ex-
tracts liberally furnished from manuscripts under his charge ; to
John Britton, esq., for frequent and friendly communication ; to
Edward Rudge, esq., for access to many interesting relics discovered
during that gentleman's recent excavations upon the abbey site ;
to J. M. G. Cheek, esq., for introduction to a multitude of original
documents and the use of his valuable topographical library ; to
Dr. Beale Cooper for statistical statements and the obliging loan
of valuable books ; to William Byrch, esq., for free access to his
ample law library ; to the Rev. H. B. Whiting, for assistance in
the perusal of intricate portions of the conventual manuscripts ; to
the Rev. C. H. Cox, for personal assistance in procuring extracts
from Oxford ; to Benjamin Workman, esq., for abstracts from
documents relating particularly to Bengeworth ; and to Mr. John
Gibbs, of Offenham, for his friendly information and assistance
while inspecting different portions of the Vale.

Respecting the graphic Illustrations inserted through the volume,
the writer considers himself fortunate in having secured the aid of a

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Draughtsman in ihe neighbourhood^ — Mr. Oolson of Pershore — the
happy execution of whose pencil is sustained by its uniform truth-
fulness : while the manner in which his sketches are perpetuated
by the graver is as spirited as the names — ^in particular — of Mr. S.
Williams, and Mr. Sly, would lead us to expect.

In conclusion, he heartily expresses his thanks to those of his
to¥m8men^ and others, who, prior to the appearance of the Work,
encouraged him by engaging copies. It is with pleasure that he
appends to this volume, the names of those Individuab, who by this
expression of their confidence have augmented his exertions by the
cheering pre-assuranoe of their approval.

Z, Bridgb-Stbbit, Eybsham,
AprU, 1844.

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YESHAM is seated in the boeom of the

▼ale that sweeps from the bases of the

Ootteswold Hills on the east and south,

and is guarded at the west bj Bredon

HilL Gleologicallj oonsidered, it stands

upon a lias plain at the foot of an oolitic

range ; and thus its yicinage— as students

of the science prove — must once have

been a vast abyss sunk in primeral ocean,

the muddy floor of which is now blue

day, retaining in its bed the fosnlised remains of animals, insects,

and vegetables, that lived and flourished in the earliest ages of our


The town, of which we are to write, is situated upon a peninsula
formed by the Avon, at the south-eastern part of Woroestershire,
bordering upon the counties of Warwick and Gloucester. It is
within the hundred of Blakenhurste; a name, which from its Saxon
compounds, may be considered equivalent to Black Fore^, The
hundred was originally called that of Fisseberge, being so recorded
in Domesday book. Bp. Thomas supposes the latter name to have
(»riginated in the legend connected with the founder of the monas-
tery, which asserts that a key thrown by him into the Avon, here,
was found in the stomach of a fish, at Rome. When the name was
altered does not appear: but Heniy I. gave to the abbey a charter
conferring jurisdiction over the hundred of Blakenhurste ; the seal

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of which having been broken, a grant was made in the 25th of
Heniy III. importing that the seal should be as effectual though
cracked, as if it were remaining whole. ^

The town stands upon the Worcester and London turnpike road —
tiU 1842 the mail coach line, — ^is on the high road from Leicester
to Bristol, and in the direct route from Cheltenham to Leamington.
It is distant from London 92| miles, from Worcester 15, from
Cheltenham the same, from Tewkesbury 13, frt>m Aloester 10, from
Stratford-on-Avon 14, from Warwick and Leamington 23, and
from Birmingham 30 miles. The Gloucester and Birmingham Rail-
way approaches the town within 9 miles, at the Defford station.
The Imperial line of B>ailway, by Evesham, projected in 1839 to
connect the cities of Dublin and London, unfortunately &iled to
obtain the preference of the government commissioners in their
report of the following spring, chiefly on account of the estimated
expense ; though confessedly the only route by which letters could
be answered in both capitals by the return of the same day's post.
But while we are engaged in printing this sheet, the Great Western
Company, having connected Oxford with London by their line, are
applying for powers to cross to the Grand Junction Bailway at
Wolverhampton, by a new line, upon the broad-guaged rail, through
Banbury, Evesham, Worcester, Kidderminster, and Stourbridge.
This, if effected, will readily diffuse the crops raised round our town
through a widely extended district.

Evesham can aspire to no earlier an origin than the eighth cen-
tury, at the beginning of which its subsequently splendid monastery
was founded. Prior to that event its site was occupied by an ex-
tended forest, in which the swineherds of the Anglo-saxon occupiers
tended on their charge. Dr. Stukeley claimed for Evesham a Boman
origin j considering it as the lost station Ad ArUonam, which is
known to have been hereabout. Our own reason for dissenting
from this opinion is given in a subsequent chapter upon '^ Military
Stations and Boads." William of Malmesbury, writing in the
twelfth century, while recording the legendary loneliness of the
spot during the Saxon heptarchy, observes that a small church had
previously been erected here, the origin of which he attributes to

1 Dugdale*B Wftrwickshire, by ThomM, p. 921.

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the Christian — and therefore Romanised — ^Britons. In connection
with this remark, we maj be permitted to obeerre that the situation
of the site, midway — as we shall afterward endeayonr to proye-*
between the stations of Alnaeettre and Ad AwUmavi, may not im-
probably have rendered it a halting-place in marching or travelling
from one to the other. But this is merely a soggestion, which we
do not undertake to establisL For though coins of the emperors
have frequently been found within the modem borough and its im-
mediate neighbourhood, — as where have they not ?— we are indis-
posed by the employment of such material to weave an elaborated

Before the foundation of the monastery, the name of the place —
as stated in the abbey registers — ^was Ethomme^ and abo H(ymme.
The latter is peculiarly appropriate to its peninsular fonn ; being
a word still used in the Scottish dialect — ^which is singularly exact
in connection with natural objects — ^to indicate the low or level
ground on the banks of a stream or river. After the erection of the
monastery the spot was called Eomi Holme from a swineherd named
Eoves, who had been employed on it, and whose verbal representa-
tions to the diocesan had resulted in the foundation of the convent.
From EavesrhciLiM the name would readily be contracted to Eve^-
ham as still employed.

The assumed sanctity of the spot, and the importance of its
monastery soon identified its name with the whole country round.
For the fruitful valley in which it is seated is styled ' the Yale of
Evesham,* both fu* and near. The circuit of this extended district
is defined by an observant resident as reaching from the Ck>tteswold
Hills to the Malvern range ;' and frt>m the former eminence, im-
mediately above the village of Mickleton, a rich and comprehensive

' The writer to wliom we have alluded, incombent of Mickleton at the time, thus
deseribes the aoene. — ** There waa an extensive prospect of the rich vale of Evesham,
bounded at a distance by the Malvern hills. The towers and spires, which rose
among the tufted trees, were strongly illuminated by the sloping rays of the sun; and
the whole scene was enlivened by the music of the birds, the responsive notes of the
thrushes from the neighbouring hawthorns, and the thrilling strains of the skylark,
who, as she soared towards the heavens, seemed to be chanting forth her matins to
the great Creator of the universe." — Rby. Richabd Obatss. SpiritiMU Quixote,
book ii. chap. 5.

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view of the entire hvd is obtained. A more varied, and thus far
superior, prospect of the whole is gained from the top of Roadway
Hill, from whenoe the expanse presents itself as overspread by cul-
ture and fertility. A more cheering spectacle can perhaps hardly
be stumbled on than that which suddenly bursts from hence on a
bright morning in the summer tide, upon the wearied toaveller, as
he journeys hitherward from London. Then the very tameness of
the preceding Oxford flat will by its dull contrast augment the soft
luxuriance of this undulating vale. And should he have passed the
night upon a coach-roof, and that a slow coach too - he will indeed
admit, as he looks across this bright descent at sun-rise, as we once
gajEcd upon it in a high-summer mom — that nothing surely can
surpass it as a teeming specimen of home fertility.

But the present appearance of the district is very different frt>m
that which it presented some fifty years ago. Then the land lay in
cultivated open and common fields, bounded only by the several
parishes. Within these the property of various individuals was
diffused, without any other distinction than the number of their
"yard-lands:" for neither hedge-row nor trees intervened. But
during the present oentuiy these spadous tracks of cultivated ground
have, under local Acts of Parliament, been severally enclosed^ thus
furnishing suitable divisions for the advancing operations of modem

The Yale being situated upon the lias strata, there are, especially
in the neighbourhood of the town, springs of saline and mineral
character analagous to those of Cheltenham, which is also seated
on the lias, being in fact a continuation of the strata here. In the
parish of Hampton, adjoining Evesham at the south-west, springs
of this character, abandoned as unfit for ordinary purposes, have
been immemorially known; and from the Register of Domesday we
leam that there was here, in the reign of William the Norman, " a

Online LibraryEngland.) George May (of EveshamA descriptive history of the town of Evesham, from the foundation of its ... → online text (page 1 of 53)