History on the village of Wombourne in the county of Staffordshire. Research is augmented with photographs, details of licensees, stories of local folklore, census data, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.



Background Information
I have used the Wombourne spelling which is at odds with some of the villagers who prefer Wombourn, the spelling used prevalently in the 19th century and up until recent times. Mind you, the spelling has changed a number of times over the centuries. The village was recorded as Wamburne in the Domesday Survey. The village lies in the valley of the River Smestow of which Wom Brook is a tributary. The old English word for the stream is 'burna' - and so the 'The Winding Stream' is thought to be the origin of the village name. Today, the older residents tend to pronounce the place as 'Wumburn.'

Wombourne - St.Benedict Biscop Parish-Church [c.1906]

In Saxon times, Wombourne formed part of the Seisdon Hundred in the Kingdom of Mercia and like Kinver, there were two mills in existence by the time of the Domesday Survey making the village an important settlement. Indeed, the parish fell into the Royal Forest of Kinver which was a popular hunting ground. The forest was visited often by the monarchy and there are records of King John staying at Stourton Castle three times in the early 13th century.

Wombourne - St.Benedict Biscop Parish-Church [c.1906]

The church at Wombourne was already established by the time of the Domesday Survey when the manor was owned by William, the son of Ansculf. It is thought that there may have been a church in Wombourne as early as 910 although the oldest parts of the present structure dedicated to St. Benedict Biscop date from the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Interestingly, it is the only church dedicated to St. Benedict Biscop in the whole of England. He was a 7th century Northumbrian bishop and builder of the monasteries at Jarrow and Monkwearmouth. The oldest parts of the church are the pink sandstone tower, the north-west corner and a section of the north wall. The attractive spire of Hollington stone was added in the 14th century.

The church was enlarged during a complete restoration between 1862-7, the work being supervised by George Edmund Street. The stained glass is mostly by Kempe with other windows by Clayton and Bell. St. Benedict's features a remarkable sculpted relief of the Good Samaritan brought here by Sir Samuel Hellier. One of the monuments in the church is a large tablet by Sir Francis Chantrey to Richard Bayley Marsh of Lloyd House.

Wombourne - Wode House [c.1912]

The aforementioned Samuel Hellier once resided at Wodehouse, partly a Jacobean building with a name meaning 'house in the wood.' It is quite a remarkable structure that has been extended over the years. The heart of the house is thought to be a timber-framed building dating from 1350. The later additions were restored by G. F. Bodley in 1872 and, between 1896-8, the house was provided with additional external ornament by C. R. Ashbee and his Guild of Handicraft. This included the replacement of five gables with a parapet featuring a most peculiar baluster bearing the motto "Domum Dulce Domum" or "'Home Sweet Home."

Wombourne Cricket Team [c.1890]

Wombourne's village character has, to some extent, been maintained by retaining the old village green. The land and surrounding properties was acquired by Colonel T. B. Shaw-Hellier of The Wodehouse at the Lloyd Estate Sale in 1901. The catalogue for the sale described it as 'The Heart of Wombourne' although the ancient name for this part of the village is Dovecote Close. Soon after the sale, Shaw-Hellier rented much of the ground to the cricket club and a pitch was subsequently laid out. The surrounding lime trees were planted shortly after this and formed a most delightful scene.

Wombourne - High Street [c.1935]

The village green was featured in The Times newspaper on July 1st 1935. The article read "High Summer, a cricket match in the Midlands... on village greens all over the country cricket was played in ideal conditions on Saturday. A picture showed the match at Wombourne in Staffordshire south of Wolverhampton, between the village team and Blakenhall, in a truly English setting." The photograph later appeared in several publications including a book entitled 'Beautiful Britain', and later as an advertisement for Triumph cars in which the advert read "The church clock chimes three... the bowler makes his run, a quick stroke from the batsman, the soft slap as the wicket-keeper reaches out and holds the ball... critical eyes assess the play... a Saturday afternoon scene as true and as typical of our country as the craftmanship that goes into the products of the Standard Motor Company, representing as they do in every detail of their design 'all that's best in Britain.'

Wombourne - Institute [2006]

The Wombourne Institute is based in a fine 19th century building. Commissioned by Mrs. Sarah Dalton of Lloyd House, it was constructed in 1833 to be used as a day school. It was eventually replaced by a new school built in 1863 and became the meeting place of the Mutual Improvement Society. This organisation was led by the village vicar but somehow by the end of the Victorian era, the building was known as the Men's Institute and billiards was played here. By the 1930's it had changed use again and was the first clinic in Wombourne. There is a motto painted on a blank window which reads 'Let's go hand in hand together, not one before another.' It is a building which has seen much history and village life.

Wombourne - Bratch Locks [c.1966]

Just to the northwest of Wombourne is The Bratch where there is perhaps the most photographed lock-keepers office in the country. The Bratch Locks are one of the engineering triumphs of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Originally said to have been built as a three lock staircase, the flight takes the canal through a vertical interval of 30 feet. Fragments of the original work can still be seen but the staircase was converted at an early stage into three conventional locks separated by 'ponds.' Two very large side ponds accept the diverted excess water produced from the upper two locks, and in 1927, when much reconstruction work took place, a large weir was built. A striking visual element in the scene at The Bratch is the small toll house [see gallery above], an octagonal building with an additional ornamental central chimney. Until recently, the toll house and Upper Bratch Bridge [No.48] were painted white but it has been returned to bare brick.

Wombourne - Bratch Pumping Station [c.1905]

Just across the road from the locks is the Victorian Bratch Waterworks building. They just don't construct buildings like this anymore. What a bold statement the Bilston Urban District Council were making with this spectacular building. Completed in 1895 it features little corner turrets which give it the look of a Gothic castle. The pumping engines in the waterworks were fired by coal brought by canal, an explanation that accounts for the location of this and other water pumping stations along the route of the canal and the presence just below Bratch Bridge [No.47] of a wharf. The town of Bilston was first supplied with water from the pumping station in July 1886 and the works were formally opened on August 12th, in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year 1897, by R. A. Harper, Esq. J.P., Chairman of the District Council.

Wombourne - Steam Locomotive at Bratch [1963]
Image © National Railway Museum and SSPL.

The Bratch was once where the trains stopped and served Wombourne. The railway station has since been converted into a footpath and cycleway. The station still operates - but now as a tea shop. It's worth wandering inside even if you don't fancy a cuppa because there are many fascinating frames displaying old black-and-white photographs from the station's halcyon days and even images of when it was constructed. There is also a timetable for the service which ran through here.

Wombourne - Bratch Railway Station [c.1928]

Although planned for many years, the line did not open until May 1925 due, in part, to the First World War. A branch of the Great Western Railway, the line was officially known as the Wolverhampton and Kingswinford Railway, but became generally known as the Kingswinford Branch. Other stations on the line included Tettenhall, Compton Halt, Penn Halt, Himley, Gornal Halt, Pensnett Halt, Bromley Halt and Brockmoor Halt. Passenger services ceased just seven years later on October 31st 1932. The line continued to serve goods trains until the mid-1960's.

Wombourne - Lloyd House [2001]

Lloyd House lies about a mile to the north of the village and is an splendid late 18th century ashlar building facing to the south-east. The house has nine bays and a central porch with Tuscan columns. The interior has many of the original eighteenth century features, including a staircase with an ornamental wrought-iron balustrade with a wooden wreathed hand rail.

Wombourne - Netley House on Gravel Hill [2006]

There are some attractive houses at the top of Gravel Hill where the road joins the High Street and Maypole Street. This was once the site of the Bull Ring where bull-baiting took place. Netley House is a grand building, once the home of a maltster. The maltings were located to the rear of the property. By the end of the 19th century the house was occupied by an industrialist named Henry Hadley. During the inter-war years Netley House was occupied by the schoolteacher Harry Joseph England. Originally from Tutbury, he had moved to the village from Enville. His wife Elizabeth also worked as a teacher.

Wombourne - Gravel Hill House [2007]

Just down from Netley House, and looking down to the old bridge across the brook, is Gravel Hill House. In 1851 this mini-mansion was the home of the Spencer family. Hailing from Bilston, Joseph Spencer was recorded as an engineer and iron founder in the census of 1851. He lived at Gravel Hill House with his wife Charlotte and a young son named Herbert. The couple employed a nurse, housemaid and groom. During the inter-war years Gravel Hill House was occupied by Norman Kynaston.
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Related Newspaper Articles
"An inquest was held yesterday, at Sedgley, Staffordshire respecting the death Daniel Cox, 21, who met his death while engaged in a foot race. The deceased arranged to compete with a young man named Lamb in a foot race in Wombourne Road, and when starting he stumbled and fell against a wall, dying instantly. His injuries were a broken neck and concussion of the brain. The jury returned a verdict of "accidental death.”
"Shocking Death of an Athlete"
Manchester Courier : May 22nd 1883 Page 3.

"A sad accident occurred at Wombourne, near Wolverhampton, on Friday and resulted in the death of Edith six years old, the daughter of Joseph Blewitt of that village. The child, with number of young friends, was in a field gathering buttercups, when she ran for shelter beneath a tree to escape a storm. The violence of the wind, however, caused the tree to fall, and the child received internal injuries, which ended in death in a short time. Several other companions, who were also sheltering, had narrow escapes.”
"A Sad Accident"
Sheffield Daily Telegraph
: May 19th 1891 Page 5.
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List of Pubs
Cat Inn
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Holly Bush Inn
Masons' Arms
New Inn
Old Boat Inn
Old Bush Inn
Red Lion Inn
Round Oak Inn
Swan Inn
Victoria Inn
Vine Inn
Waggon and Horses

Banks's Imperial Mild Ale [1960's]

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Genealogy Connections
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Wombourne area you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Staffordshire Genealogy.

Benedict Biscop

Newspaper Articles
"At Wombourne on Friday night, Joseph Turner and John Jackson, fire-iron manufacturers, of Dudley, started for a drive. The horse became restive, and ultimately the conveyance was upset. Tie occupants were thrown violently on the ground and were seriously injured. Both men were removed to a hotel in a state of unconsciousness. Turner's jaw is broken.”
"Serious Carriage Accidenty"
Edinburgh Evening News : July 5th 1880 Page 3.

"Mr Henry Hill, maltster, of Wombourne, near Wolverhampton, and a member of the Albrighton Hunt, died in Shifnal Infirmary late on Sunday night as the result of an accident in the hunting field.”
"Hunting Fatality"
Sunderland Daily Echo : Nov 22nd 1898 Page 4.

Butler's Light Pale Ale [c.1920's]

"Yesterday an inquest was held at Wolverhampton on the body of Catherine Brown, a middle-aged woman. It appeared that on Saturday the deceased was returning from Wombourne, when she had an apoplectic fit, and also an attack of paralysis. A surgeon saw her, and had her placed on an omnibus with a view to her removal to the hospital. Two police-officers got into the omnibus, and it was alleged that they dragged the unfortunate woman out of the vehicle, and locked her up on a charge of drunkenness. She remained in the cell until five o'clock on Sunday morning, when, her illness being at length recognised, she was removed to the hospital, where she died. The jury returned a verdict of "death from natural causes," and censured the police officers, whose conduct, it was stated, would be reported to the Watch Committee.”
"Apoplexy Mistaken for Drunkenness"
Nottingham Evening Post : Feb 22nd 1893 Page 2.

"Before Judge Roberts, Albert Horton, a contractor, of Dudley Road, Wolverhampton, brought an action against Frank York, a farmer, of Claverley, to recover compensation for damage to his trap. A counter-claim was put in for damages to York's trap. Evidence was given that there was a collision near Wombourne, and one of the witnesses stated that York was "market peart." The Judge inquired what was meant by "market peart," and Mr. Anslow, who keeps an inn at Wombourne, said it was the state a man was in who had had two or three glasses of whiskey. The Judge gave judgment for plaintiff for £1.14s.6d.”
"Bee Upsets Car"
Taunton Courier : June 10th 1936 Page 4.

"A bee was the cause of a car overturning at Wombourne on the Wolverhampton to Stourbridge road during the weekend. Douglas Breeze, 52, of Davies Street. Porth, Rhondda, Glamorgan, was driving when the bee got between his glasses and his face, and in endeavouring to dislodge it he brushed off his glasses and became temporarily blind. The car turned into a hedge and then overturned. Mr. Breeze received a crushed foot, his wife suffered severe shock, and their son was bruised.”
"West Midland Miscellany"
Worcestershire Chronicle : July 4th 1903 Page 2.

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Ogden Nash
"Then here's to the heartening wassail,
Wherever good fellows are found;
Be its master instead of its vassal,
and order the glasses around.”
Ogden Nash

Not One to Mix with the Riff-Raff in the Bar

1950 Advertisement for Mitchell's & Butler's

Work in Progress

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Ιdouard Manet "The Merry Beer Drinker" [1870's]

Butler's Old Ale Unissued Beer Label [1959]

Comic Postcard - Money Matters

Butler's Old Ale Unissued Beer Label [1959]

Banks's Mild Ale [1959]

Butler's Pride of the Midlands Playing Card [c.1950's]

Banks's Beer Mat [1962]

Butler's Bitter [1938]

Newspaper Articles
"At half-past four on Friday morning, Henry Rogers, aged twenty-seven, bricklayer and plasterer, of Little Bury Street, went to the Wolverhampton police station, and made the following confession: "I have come to give myself for murdering my wife. She lies near the haystack in the first field leading to the nineteenth pound in the Whitmore Reans. She has got her head half cut off. You will have to take something with you." This last remark was understood to imply that the corpse was so mutilated that it would be difficult to remove it. This was found to be the case. Surrounded by a great quantity of blood, the murdered woman lay with her head attached to the rest of the body only by a slight ligament on the left side of the neck. The state of the corpse showed that there had been a fierce struggle before the murder was effected. There was a terrible wound upon the forehead, extending across the forehead and about the scalp, and one of her fingers had been cut off. Near by there lay her child, an infant of eighteen months, sleeping peacefully among some loose hay; for the rick was in the process being cut and trussed. Close at hand was the weapon with which the murder had been committed - a razor smeared with blood, and the long hairs of a woman adhering to it The murderer's clothes was stained with blood, particularly the left leg of his trousers, as though he had been kneeling in blood. He told the police that he had washed his hands in a neighbouring stream. He said he had murdered her because he had seen her walking with other men. When the police, having satisfied themselves that his confession was only too true, charged him in the usual form, his only reply was, "She was a frightful object, wasn't she?" The pair, with their child, seem to have spent the night by the side of the rick. He was brought on Friday noon before the Stipendiary magistrate, and remanded. He was well dressed for his station, and good-looking, but bears a bad character. At twelve years of age he was sent for three years to reformatory, and has since that time been several times in custody. Indeed, he is now under remand on his own recognisances, charged with stealing a watch from a brother-in-law. He is of a roving disposition, and has just returned from the north of England. The murdered woman is only twenty-four years of age. She was Sarah Jane Mitchell, of Wombourne, near Wolverhampton. On Friday evening Rogers confessed to his sister that he attempted the murder on his way to the field, but that his wife's resistance was too much for him. He awoke soon after three o'clock on Friday morning, and found his wife and child sleeping, and began to murder his wife as she lay slumbering. His wife, he says, had arranged to leave Wolverhampton with another man on Saturday morning. Before he gave himself up, he went to a married sister and to his mother, and told them, and showed blood on his clothes. He was very violent in his cell. On Monday Rogers was committed by the Wolverhampton magistrates for murdering his wife. He repeated the violent behaviour which distinguished him before the coroner on Saturday night and Sunday. The mutilated corpse of the deceased was exhibited in the coffin at a small fee per head, till the police interposed on Monday afternoon. Ten thousand people watched the corpse taken to the cemetery, where chaplets of flowers were placed on the coffin. The funeral over, several hundred excited women followed the hearse, which had to gallop from them, threatening violence to the murderer's mother.”
"The Murder at Wolverhampton"
Grantham Journal : July 7th 1877 Page 7.

Brewery Poster for William Butler's Springfield Brewery [c.1900]

"John Evans, labourer, Wombourne, was charged, at the County Police Court, yesterday, with wounding John Dean, also of Wombourne, on the 13th inst. Prosecutor stated that they had been quarrelling together, when prisoner went into his house and fetched a table-knife, with which he stabbed him [prosecutor] in the right hand, making three or four wounds, which had disabled him from working. Prisoner was remanded for a week.”
"Charge of Stabbing"
Birmingham Daily Post
: Sept. 16th 1890 Page 7.

Banks's Beer Mat [1962]

"At the County Petty Sessions on Monday, John Evans, of Wombourne Common, a warehouseman in the employ of Messrs. Webb and Sons, seedsmen, Wordsley, was again brought up charged with wounding a young man named John Orams. The complainant was standing near his door on the night of Saturday week with a young woman when the prisoner went to him and struck him with a knife, inflicting wounds in his hands. He was sent to gaol for two months with hard labour.”
"A Stabbing Case"
Lichfield Mercury : September 26th 1890 Page 8.

Butler's Extra Stout [c.1920's]

"The magistrates sitting at the Wolverhampton County Police Court heard a summons against a labourer named Henry Crutchley, lodging at Wombourne Common, for cruelty to his child, aged 11 months. It was stated that two months ago the defendant hit the child on the face with his fist and discoloured its eye. On July 3rd, when in bed with his wife, the baby began to cry, and the defendant slapped it most unmercifully, the blows being heard by the next-door neighbours. They opened the bedroom window and asked Mrs. Crutchley to request her husband to give them the child. He refused, and continued to ill-treat the child. At length his wife ran into the street in her night dress and shouted "murder." Her brother chanced to come up, and entering the house, a fight ensued between him and the defendant. Dr. Wolverton, of Wolverhampton, said the lower part of the baby's neck was one entire bruise. The defendant was sentenced to three months' hard labour, the full punishment allowed by law.”
"Shocking Cruelty to a Baby"
Tamworth Herald : July 22nd 1893 Page 6.

"A verdict of "Suicide" was recorded at an inquest on Thursday concerning William Anslow, farmer, Lloyd Farm, Penn, whose body was found in a culvert at Wombourne. He had been missing for nine days, and was stated to have suffered from depression.”
"Farmer's Suicide"
Tamworth Herald : August 24th 1924 Page 5.

Butler's Molineux Ale [1949]

"Benjamin Rogers [58], of Brook Cottage, Wombourne, and Bert Rogers [36], Battlefield Cottages, Wombourne, were admitted to the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton, yesterday, suffering from gunshot wounds in the legs. Their injuries were received in an alleged affray near Baggeridge Wood on the Earl of Dudley's estate between Dudley and Wolverhampton in the early hours of yesterday.”
"Two Men Wounded"
Aberdeen Journal
: December 16th 1929 Page 7.

"Elizabeth Lloyd [65], of Giggetty Road, Wombourne, near Wolverhampton, was fined £50 at Wolverhampton today for stealing £250.17s., and ordered to make restitution of an unrecovered sum of £131. She pleaded guilty. It was alleged that she took the money after laying out the body of her greatest friend, Nurse Taylor, whom she had known for 30 years and at whose home in Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton, she was staying. Mr. W. Woolley, defending, said that Lloyd had previously borne an unblemished character. She was terribly shocked and distraught at her friend's death, and could not have realised what she was doing.”
"Laid Out Friend Stole £250"
Gloucestershire Echo : July 16th 1946 Page 1.

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Banks's Imperial Mild Ale [c.1948]

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That's Worth a Worthington

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