History on the village of Abberley in the county of Worcestershire

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Background Information and History on Abberley

Abberley lies in an area of difficult cycling territory. I have lost count of the number of times I have pedalled through the parish, possibly on the way to some hellish climb like Stanford Bank or wobbling back from the legendary Ankerdine. But every now and then I like to delve into the lanes, grab a beer at the Manor Arms and enjoy a great view from one of the elevations. And if you like cycling uphill you don't have to pass through Abberley because the village has its own little monster called Winniats Way, a great little leg-tickler best tackled after a little liquid fortitude in the pub! Personally, I love the ascent up through the woods, though I appreciate the pain is not to everyone's liking. However, walkers have to go up and down a bit if they are following the Worcestershire Way, a long-distance footpath that passes through Abberley.

The village is quite spread out and perhaps a little confusing to the visitor. The village nucleus is around the old parish church, another cluster of housing is based at The Common, and there are other pockets of cottages, farms and housing dotted around The Hill where the school or old hall and clock tower is located.

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The village name is thought to derive from Abber's or Edbold's, clearing in the trees of the Wyre Forest. Abberley was in the Doddingtree Hundred. It was once joined with nearby Rock but, being merged with Syntley, became a separate parish in 1289. Ulmer the Thane held the manor before the Norman conquest when ownership passed to Ralph de Todeni, a standard bearer for William the Conqueror. Around this period there were thirty households in the district along with a mill. It is thought that some form of castle of fortification was located on or near the site of Abberley Hall. It was mentioned by the antiquary John Leland in the mid-16th century. One of the most important historical events in the area took place in 1405 when there was a prolonged stand-off between the forces of King Henry IV based on Abberley Hill and those of Owain Glyndŵr on Woodbury Hill. It is thought that an economic blockade by the English combined with the stretching of the Franco-Welsh logistics support line forced a withdrawal. Thwarted here at Abberley, the advance towards Worcester was perhaps the pinnacle of the Welsh Revolt.

Saint Mary's Church at Abberley [2016]

Abberley in Noake's Guide to Worcestershire 1868

About a dozen miles N.W. from Worcester lies the parish which I shall distinguish by placing it first on my list. It is one of the very few hilly districts in Worcestershire, and possesses limestone and coal. Ralph de Todeni, one of those enterprising gentlemen who in 1066 paid this island a visit in company with the Duke of Normandy, and who in fact bore his standard, had most of the land hereabout assigned to him as his share of the spoil, of which he frequently helped the monks of his own country to a slice. His possessions afterwards fell to the Earls of Warwick, and in the time of Henry VIII to Walter Walsh, one of the grooms of the chamber to that wayward monarch. From him descended William Walsh, the friend of Pope and Dryden. The latter styled him "the best critic in the nation," and Pope said of him : "Granville the polite, And knowing Walsh would tell him how to write." "The Muses' judge and friend, Who justly knows to blame or to commend." Moreover, he was a man of fashion, gave £80 for a wig, and employed a barber a fortnight to comb it. He was a knight of the shire for his native county, and a gentleman of the horse to Queen Anne; and, lastly, a poet.

Like Mr. Boswell, and some other individuals, whom I know but shall not name, Walsh is more known by his connection with greater men than by any performance of his own. The Walsh family terminated in a heiress, who married a Bromley; and in their turn the Bromley's ended with a lady, of whom Mr. Moilliet purchased the estate, and built here a splendid mansion, but died before he could enjoy it. This house was accidentally destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt, and was for some time the seat of his son, J. Moilliet, Esq., recently High Sheriff for Worcestershire, but has been purchased of him by Joseph Jones, Esq. The lofty tower of the mansion overlooks a charming landscape, and from the hills in this parish, it is said, a dozen counties may be seen. The air is so pure and bracing that longevity follows as a matter of course. In 1836 Mary Bagnall died here at the age of 102; and the late venerable rector, the Rev. F. Severne, was only the tenth incumbent since the beginning of Elizabeth's reign! He held the living for a period of some thirty-six years, and his father and grandfather for forty-eight years each. But the constitution of the Severne family might have had something to do with this, as two of his predecessors held the incumbency of Kyre for 102 years between them!

There are some odd old names still existing in the parish which that most painstaking antiquary, the late Mr. Allies, collected thus :- Cob's Hole, Upper and Lower Mogul Tree Bank, Start Piece, Little Warders, Ellbatch Orchard, Far and Near Ellbatch Band, Radge Coppice, Catterbatch Piece, The Dotch, Little Dotch, The Dots, Sallen's Field Orchard, Coldwell Rough, The Vinne, Vinne Orchard, Big Vinne, Little Vinne, and Great Viney. Some of the above names indicate the existence of vines here at a former period; and certain writers have supposed that the Romans planted vines in Britain. Tacitus intimates that the olive and the vine were deficient here; but it is clear from Bede and others that they were cultivated at a subsequent period, and perhaps were neglected only when the inhabitants found they could purchase better wines at a low price from France, or employ their lands to greater advantage by growing corn.

From a return made to a visitation of Doddingtree Hundred, by order of Cromwell, in 1656, the spiritual affairs of Abberley appear in this description : "A rectory in the presentation, as we suppose, of one Mr. Joseph Walsh, esquire, whose ancestors were wont to p'sent. That our p'sent minister is one Mr. John Dedicott an able constant preacher of the word and a man of un-blameable life and conversation. Profits of the rectory £50, which would be more if the lord of the manor had not detained some of them. Only an acre of glebe." The living is now valued at £300; it is in the diocese of Hereford; population, about 700; acreage, 2,000; Rev. J. L. Moilliet is rector. There are about four acres of glebe. Joseph Jones, Esq., is lord of the manor, which extends over the parishes of Rock, Bayton, Alton, Shelsley, and Astley. The court is still held at Bewdley, Mr. John Bury being the steward. Mr. Jones is also the principal landowner.

The old church of Abberley dated from the Early Norman period, but becoming greatly dilapidated, in the year 1850 - its wooden spire leaning inwards, from the massive but bent old tower, and with every gale threatening "hideous fall" on the body of the building - was taken down; and after consultation it was thought the old church was "too bad to mend." Mr. Moilliet thereupon set himself to the work of founding a new church, and the site chosen was in a commanding position not far from the old one. The first stone was laid by Miss Moilliet, on the 27th July, 1850, and the consecration took place on the same day of 1852. Mr. Cole, of London, was the architect; Mr. James Davis, of Birmingham, the builder; style, Early English; 400 sittings; cost, about £7,000, nearly the whole of which was provided by the Moilliet family. The old church is still standing, its chancel being used as a mortuary chapel.

There is a charity here, founded and supported by the Walsh and Bromley families. The lord of the manor, the rector, and churchwardens, are trustees of the charity. New schools were erected in 1859. They are built with Abberley stone, in the Early English style. They are under Government, and have a certificated master, a sewing mistress, and pupil teacher. There are at present eighty children on the books. The old school house is still standing, and belongs as formerly to Walsh's Charity. A Wesleyan chapel has been established in the parish: it is a hideous structure of brick. The principal crops grown here are wheat, beans, vetches, oats, swedes, and turnips, but not much barley.

Abberley in Littlebury's Directory and Gazetteer of Worcester and District  1879

Abberley is a parish with a very interesting village, situate 12 miles N.W. from Worcester, on the road to Cleobury, 9½ miles E. from Tenbury, and 4 miles S. W. from Stourport; is in the western division of the county, Lower Doddingtree hundred, Martley union and highway district, Hundred House petty sessional division and polling district, Worcester county court district, Hereford diocese, Ludlow archdeaconry, and Burford rural deanery. Its ancient names were Edboldelege, Abbodeley, and Abbot's Lea. It is a hilly district, commanding charming views over many counties. The soil is marl and clay, with a gravelly subsoil; and the principal crops grown here are wheat, beans, vetches, oats, swedes, and turnips, but not much barley. The acreage is 2,636; annual rateable value, £3,706; population in 1861, 692; in 1871, 607; inhabited houses, 133; families or separate occupiers, 148. Joseph Jones, Esq., D. L., is lord of the manor, which extends over the parishes of Rock, Bayton, Alton, Shelsley, and Astley. The court is still held at Bewdley, Mr. John Bury being the steward. J. Jones, Esq., is also the principal landowner.

Saint Michael's Church at Abberley [2005]

The old Norman church of the parish being dilapidated, a new one in the Early English style was erected in 1850-52, at the expense of Mrs. Moilliet, and was dedicated to St. Mary. In 1873 the fabric was greatly injured by a destructive fire. It was restored in 1877. The local stone and Ombersley stone is principally used in the construction, the pillars, shafts, and steps in the interior being of Devonshire marble. A metal screen separates the chancel from the nave. The east window represents scenes in the life of Christ, and is executed by Messrs. Barraud, Lavers and Westlake. The organ is placed north of the chancel; builders, Messrs. Hill & Son. The chapel, south of the chancel, will seat 70 school children. There are 300 free sittings for adults in the nave. In the tower are six bells, rung by a mechanism which enables one person to ring the whole peal by playing with the fingers on a table with keys. The tower is surmounted by a plain spire. The chancel of the old church was left to be used as a mortuary chapel. The earliest register is dated 1558. The living is a rectory in the patronage of Joseph Jones, Esq., yearly value £320, with residence, and about four acres of glebe; rector, the Rev. John Lewis Moilliet, M. A., Trinity College, Cambridge, who was instituted in 1865.

There is a charity here, founded and supported by the ancient families of Walsh and Bromley, providing poor children with schooling and clothing; and the lord of the manor, the rector, and the churchwardens are trustees of the charity. New schools were erected in 1859, being under Government inspection, having a certificated master, a sewing mistress, and a pupil teacher; supported by voluntary contributions; upwards of 100 children are taught. There is a chapel for the Wesleyans. Abberley Hall is the seat of Joseph Jones,Esq., J.P., D.L. It was built by Mr. Dawkes, the well-known architect of Witley Court, for Mr. Moilliet, who formerly possessed the estate, and was purchased by Mr. Jones. It has a lofty tower, commanding the beautiful valley of the Teme, and an immense range of fruitful country. The hamlets and places in Abberley are : Netherton, ¾ of a mile N.E.; Brook End, ½ a mile E.; High Oaks, near Bewdley, E.; Abberley Hill is on the south side of the parish.

The Clock Tower of Abberley Hall [2005]

Newspaper Articles

"On Thursday, the 23rd January, the parish of Abberley, in this county, was visited with a most grievous calamity, that plunged it into the greatest gloom and excited a very deep and widespread feeling of sorrow beyond its borders. On the morning of that day a fire broke out in the Parish church, and in a few hours the interior of the sacred edifice was completely destroyed. The loss sustained by the residents in the locality is the more severely felt because the building was comparatively new, having been erected only about 20 years at a considerable cost, and was one of the most beautiful churches in the district. The old parish church, dating from the early Norman Period, had become greatly dilapidated, and in 1850 was taken down. Mr. James Moilliet, of The Elms, devoted his attention to the work of founding a new church, which was erected on a site given by him, and the cost of which, amounting to about £7,000, was mainly provided through the liberality of the Moilliet family. The site selected was an exceedingly beautiful one, at the summit of rising ground, among wooded hills that stretch eastwards towards the valley of the Severn, and distant about a quarter-of-a-mile from old church, which was in great part dismantled. The chancel was retained and fitted up as a mortuary chapel, and the north wall, with its flying buttresses, as much of the massive through time-rent tower as would serve for hanging the one funeral bell, and from end to end a row of connecting arches were spared to give interest to the venerable, ivy-clad ruin and the quiet, picturesque, hallowed resting-place of past and passing generations. The foundation stone of the new building was laid on the 27th July, 1850, by Miss Moilliet the living being at that time held by the Rev. Francis Severne. Sir Thos. Winnington, the Rev. Thos. Pearson and others, assisted at the interesting ceremony. The church, which was dedicated to St. Mary, was completed in two years, and was consecrated on July 27th 1852 by the Bishop of Hereford; among the large assemblage on that occasion being Lord Lyttelton, Lord Ward, Sir Thos Winnington, etc. The following is a description of the building as published at the time of its erection : "It is constructed of stone in the later style of the 13th century from designs furnished by Mr. Cole, of London. It consists of a porch, nave, side aisles, and chancel with a tower of three stories, surmounted by a lofty spire. The tower contains a musical peal of six bells which are not swung, but by means of a mechanical contrivance, are made to ring by one man being struck by hammers worked by springs. In the interior of the church a row of five pointed arches on each side support the pediment, from which springs the roof, an open timbered one and also separate the nave from the aisle. The chancel is separated from the body of the church by a pointed arch, the floor being raised by one step. The east window is of five lights. The southern aisle is continued nearly to the end of the chancel, and is terminated by a stained glass window furnished by Wilmshurst, of London, a memorial to Lucy Harriett, the wife of the late James Moilliet, Esq. This window contains four subjects of "The acts of mercy," and was designed by Miss M. A Cole, sister of the architect. Two handsome ornamental tablets of white marble are also placed against the wall over the family pew. The other windows in this portion of the building are filled with glass of ornamental design. We may observe that the stone with which the walls are formed was raised from the quarry adjoining the church, while all the traceried portions and plinths are formed of stone from Elmley and Ombersley. An enclosed space is set apart at the western end of the edifice for the font, which is of stone and placed on a pedestal of like nature. A seraphine occupies another enclosed space at the western end of the north aisle, where also the choir are to be stationed. The pulpit, which is of stone and handsomely carved, is fixed on the north side of the chancel entrance; the reading desk and clerk's desk, both of wood, being placed opposite. There are no galleries; the western window is thus allowed to be viewed in its full proportions. The flooring of the body of the church and chancel is composed of encaustic tiles, the altar space being covered with a carpet of elegant design worked by some young ladies resident in the parish, by whom it was presented. Illuminated tablets for the commandments are placed on either side of the east window, the gift of Mr. Ingram, of Birmingham. The pewing is well constructed, and painted oak color, while the timbers of the roof are stained in dark chestnut, which contrast has a very pleasing effect. On each of the corbels are small shields, on which are letters forming sentences from Scripture. The porch is of neat design, having a slightly decorated doorway and a small window on each side. On small projections round it is the inscription, in single capital letters, "O Lord, open thou my lips." The vestry is built at the eastern end of the north aisle, access being gained to it by a separate door from the churchyard. The western front of the sacred edifice has an imposing appearance. Altogether the church is one of the purest specimens of ecclesiastical architecture in the peculiar style designated we have seen for some time, and its conception does much credit to the genius of the architect, while the excellent and substantial manner in which the entire work has been executed reflects no less honour on the contractor, Mr. James Davis, of Birmingham. The total cost is stated at between £6,000 and £7,000." The occurrence of the fire which has partially destroyed this fine edifice has been assigned to various causes. One surmise is that the fire originated from the flues of the stove under the organ. Another supposition is that it arose from fire-damp. Underneath the building are very extensive vaults in which fire-damp has been generated, and the flooring of the church has for some time been affected with what is known as "dry rot." It is conjectured that the fire-damp coming into contact with the fire in the stove caused the woodwork to ignite, and some persons have formed the opinion that the woodwork had been smouldering for some time previously. Again, the suggestion was at first offered that a heap of charcoal near the stove had ignited by slow combustion, but it has been demonstrated that, considering the small size of the heap, this could not have been the cause of the fire. It has been the custom to hold service on Sundays in the new church, and matins and evensong on other days in the chancel of the old building. In the former it has been found necessary, in consequence of the effect which the dampness of the church has upon the organ, to heat the stove under the floor of the organ chamber, which is on the north side of the chancel. The stove is reached by steps from the outside of the church, and which also lead into the vaults. During the wet weather a fire had to be lit almost every day, but frost having set in there was no fire from Saturday till Thursday. In order to have the organ in proper condition for the Sunday services, the schoolmaster [Mr. Absalom], who also officiates as organist, went, accompanied by two pupil teachers, to the church at about eight o'clock on Thursday morning to start the fire in the stove. Having done this they attended a service held at the old church at half-past eight, and at the conclusion of the service returned to the new church and filled up the stove. When they left they observed nothing calculated to excite alarm. The outbreak of the fire was first discovered a little after ten by Mr. Jones, of the Bromley Arms Inn, who saw volumes of smoke rising from the roof of the church. He immediately proceeded to the sexton, and obtained the keys of the church. By the time he reached the building [about half-past ten o'clock] the fire had attained such alarming proportions that the whole of the interior appeared to be in flames, and the roof was burning fiercely. The building was full of dense smoke, which completely obscured the whole interior from view, the woodwork in all parts of the church was in flames, and the windows were being rapidly demolished. After the alarm had been given assistance was soon rendered, the rector [the Rev. Moilliet] and a number of the parishioners arriving. The rector speedily organised means for staying the progress of the devouring element. It was at once apparent that in the body of the church the flames had made such great headway that it would be impossible to save the interior from destruction, and the efforts of the rector and those who worked with him were directed to the tower, in the hope of checking the progress of the fire in that direction. The flames had spread to the floor of the belfry chamber, but, by means of ladders, the windows above the floor were reached and broken open, and bucketsful of water were poured down. The water was procured from a pond at Hill Head Farm, and in the task of filling the buckets and carrying them to the scene of the conflagration all present laboured with remarkable zeal. By dint of great and unceasing efforts the fire in the tower was at length subdued, and the further progress of the flames in that direction barred. It was entirely owing to the almost superhuman efforts of the rector and those who aided him [among them Mr. Jones, shoemaker; Mr. Wilks, builder; Mr. James, butcher; Mr. Jones, Bromley Arms, etc.] that the tower and spire were saved. Encouraged by the example of the Misses Jones and others, the women worked as hard as, if not harder than, the men they waded into the pond, filled the buckets, and carried them to the burning building, never resting from their labours until further effort was unavailing. In the body of the church the flames spread with astonishing rapidity, and in less than an hour from the time the fire was discovered the roof began to fall in, and all hope of saving the interior from destruction was abandoned. An effort was made to save the communion plate, but without success. The whole of it, with the exception of one piece, was entirely melted. The registers were kept in an iron box in the vestry, and these were got out safely, but all other books were destroyed. The engine from Witley Court was sent for, and it arrived at about 12 o'clock. The work of destruction had by that time so far advanced that there was no possibility of preventing the interior of the body of the church being burnt out, and the engine was brought into play with a view to beating back the flames from the tower. The fire was subdued about one o'clock, but the engine played on the ruins until four. The organ, which was built by Messrs. Rushworth, of Liverpool, and had two manuals and 13 stops; the memorial tablets to the rector's mother and grandfather, and to Mrs. Palmer, and the three stained glass windows, one on the north side near the chancel, and the other two in the Squire's pew, were destroyed - in fact the body of the church was completely gutted. The interior walls were considerably injured by fire and water, and the tower also suffered to some extent. The chancel arch and other portions of the building were found so insecure that it was necessary to prop them up. The amount of the damage is estimated at £2,000, of which only about £700 or £800 will be received from the office in which the building is insured. The parish is a poor one, extraneous assistance will consequently have to be sought, and it cannot be doubted that the response will be most liberal. The schoolmaster is receiving subscriptions towards the purchase of another organ. Divine Service is being held in the schoolroom until a temporary roof can be provided for the old church. Very great grief has been occasioned among all classes of the inhabitants by this lamentable occurrence, and very general sympathy with them has been manifested by those living in the neighbourhood of Abberley. Large numbers of persons have visited the scene of the fire. On Friday the Countess of Dudley, accompanied by Viscount Ednam, was among the visitors."
"Partial Destruction of Abberley Church by Fire"
Worcester Journal : February 1st 1873 Page 5.

"In April of 1883 Mr. John Joseph Jones commenced the building of a costly and elaborate clock tower in his grounds at Abberley Hall. On the 19th day of July of the same year, the foundation stone was laid by Mrs. Jones, and in this journal on the 28th of the same month appeared an account of the building it was proposed to erect. Last October the architect. Mr. J. P. St. Aubyn, placed on the capping-stone. On Monday afternoon the building was opened in the presence of a large gathering of ladies and gentlemen. It need scarcely be said that building, which has cost with the clock and carillon many thousands of pounds, is a very imposing and noble erection. The tower stands on a mound about 300 yards from the principal entrance of the Hall. It is in the early English style, is 161 feet in height, 25 feet square, tapering to 23 feet above the plinth, which is 99 feet from the ground; the wall is of the local grey sandstone, quarried on the estate, relieved with Alveley red sandstone and yellow oolite from Ham Hill, near Yeovil. the fourth of the nine stages is an oriel chamber, from which a fine view of the country for many miles round is obtained. Over the entrance door is the family crest and motto "Deo Adjuvante" on a shield, in Alveley stone. On the same side, above an oriel, is a sundial, under which are the words "Sol me vos umbra." Near the entrance is a stone, upon which is carved "This stone was laid by John Joseph Jones and his wife Sarah Amelia [Amy], May 1881." On the wall in the interior, facing the entrance door, is a plate bearing the inscription, "In memory of Joseph Jones, of Abberley Hall, Esquire, born 18th October, 1816, died 15th October, 1880, this tower was erected by his cousin and heir, John Joseph Jones, of Abberley Hall, Esquire, 1883-1885." At a few minutes to twelve the company proceeded to the tower. At the entrance the Lord Bishop of Hereford in his robes, said "a few words of prayer and thanksgiving to Almighty God" on the completion of the building. He prayed that wherever the sound of the bells were heard men's hearts might be lifted to consider how short their time here on earth was, how frail and uncertain their condition, and so to number their days that they might apply their hearts seriously to holy and heavenly wisdom, and so in the end be brought to life everlasting through the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ. His lordship said benediction. Mr. Jones then set the clock, which struck 12 and chimed "God save the Queen." A royal salute of 21 4½-inch maroons was then tired from some mortars. The greater part of the company subsequently ascended the tower, and expressed much admiration of its fine interior and the elaborate carillon and clock. At a few minutes to two the company, numbering nearly 200, sat down to luncheon, provided by Mr. Mountford, of Worcester, in a large elegantly-draped temporary saloon, in front of the hall. At the conclusion of the repast, the Bishop of Hereford said, having received Mrs. Jones's permission to say a few words, he should propose "The very good health of the Host and Hostess." [Applause.] There were many reasons why they should drink their very good health, one of which he dared to say was not known to all present namely, that it was their host's birthday. [Applause] They knew why they were met together. Their ears had heard, their eyes had seen, the reason that had brought them together and he was sure there was not one in that room who did not earnestly hope that for years and years to come Mr. and Mrs. Jones might be living within the sound of those bells, and might derive that satisfaction from them which they [the gathering] hoped and trusted they would. [Applause.] To that neighbourhood he supposed the clock and bells would be a very great advantage. At all events there would be no excuse for anybody in that part of the country being late for anything when they had such a timekeeper as that. [Laughter, and hear, hear.] He trusted also, in the words which he spoke just before the clock was set going, that those who lived within the sound of the bells might be reminded from time to time how fast time flew, and so be thinking of their latter end. They would occasionally hear hymn tunes from those bells, and he hoped they would bring to their recollection the thought that it was God who gave them all those good things, and so might they be reminded therefore to give Him themselves. They would be joyous bells if they stirred up these thoughts. Mr. Jones thanked his lordship most sincerely for the kind manner in which he had proposed and the company had drank the health of Mrs. Jones and himself, and for wishing him many happy returns of the day. He hoped they would long live to hear those beautiful bells and show their friends the beautiful tower. [Applause.] He trusted it might be said that the clock would be instrumental in causing them all to be in time not only for the railway but for church on Sundays. [Laughter.] He must thank the gentlemen who had been the means of erecting the tower - Mr. J. P. St. Aubyn, the architect; Mr. Joyce, who provided the clock; Messrs. Taylor Bros., Loughborough, who founded the beautifully-toned bells; and last, but not least, his friend Canon Cattley, who had been the mainspring of the whole work. [Applause.] Canon Cattley expressed his gratitude for the way in which his name bad been mentioned and received. Whatever labour he had given to the work had been very charming and happy work from beginning to end. Mr. Jones had allowed him to do just what he liked. The Rev. F. A. Reiss [Rock] gave "The health of the Bishop of Hereford." His Lordship was always ready with a helping hand and kind word, and he [Mr. Reiss] felt the laity loved him as much as the clergy. If they did they certainly loved him very much indeed. [Applause.] The Bishop thanked Mr. Reiss for his kind utterances. During the day photographs were taken of the tower by Messrs. Bennett and Son, of Worcester. The Abberley Hall band played selections at a later period in the day. On Tuesday Mr. Jones gave a dinner to the tenant farmers on his Worcestershire estates, and subsequently there was a display of fireworks by Mr. C. T. Brock, the Crystal Palace pyrotechnist, the grounds being illuminated with Venetian lamps and Chinese lanterns. On Wednesday evening Mr. and Mrs. Jones gave a ball to their friends."
"The Clock Tower at Abberley Hall"
Worcestershire Chronicle : May 9th 1885 Page 5.

"During the last two years a work of a quite remarkable kind, to which we have more than once called attention, has been going forward at Abberley, on the estate of Mr. J. J. Jones, of Abberley Hall. Mr. Jones, on succeeding his cousin in the ownership of the estate, wished to perpetuate his memory by some suitable memorial, and conceived the idea of building a clock and carillon tower, which should stand, not merely as a mute monument of the dead, but as an object of enduring pleasure and usefulness to the humble dwellers in the surrounding district. Mr. Jones, in a fortunate moment, took Canon Cattley into his counsels, and as no consideration of cost was allowed to limit or hamper the plans, a work as near perfection as possible, and almost unique in its character, has been produced. There are few rural districts that can boast such an adornnent as Mr. Jones has provided for Abberley. Certainly no one unacquainted with the circumstance wonld expect, in a secluded spot far from the din of toil, and which no railway has yet approached, to hear the Westminster quarters chime out with canerous peal, followed by sweet and far-resounding music by the familiar notes of such tunes as the "Easter Hvmn," "The Blue Bells of Scotland," or "The Harmonious Blacksmith." Still less would one expect that such an unlooked for pleasure was the work of a private gentleman, anxious only to perpetuate the memory of an ancestor and to edify his neighbours. The erection of the tower was begun in April, 1833, and a granite block built into one of the angles near its base records that "This stone was laid by John Joseph Jones and his wife Sarah Amelia [Amy] May 4th, 1833." The work has been carried to completion with praiseworthy expedition, and the tower as it presents itself to the eye, or as it appeals to the ear by the voices of the bells within, must be an object of gratulation to all who have been concerned in giving embodiment to ideas happily conceived and ably executed. The site on which the tower stands is credited by tradition with being the scene of a battle between the English and Welsh at the end of the 13th century, when the English were commanded by Robert de Todeni, then Lord of the Manor of Abberley. The tower rises from a around about 300 yards from the hall and opposite the principal entrance. From it may be commanded charming views of the country on every side, while for miles around it forms itself a striking feature in the landscape. It rises to a total height of 161 feet from the ground level, and is built with local grey sandstone quarried upon the estate, relieved with red Alveley sandstone, and yellow Somersetshire oolite. At its base the tower is 25 feet square externally and 15 feet internally. The walls have a thickness of three feet, and taper to 23 feet wide above the plinth. The first 70 feet of the tower is plain. At this height angle turrets are introduced, between which the four clock dials are arranged under crocketted canopies. At 100 feet from the ground the square tower becomes an octagon lantern, pierced with windows; and at 123 feet commences the spire capping, which is perforated with numerous lucarne. Apart from its architectural details the most remarkable external features of the tower are the four clock dials, each worked in white mosaics, placed at a height of nearly 80 feet from the ground, and having a diameter of 10 feet to each dial. Just above the entrance doorway is a heraldic shield, wrought in red sandstone, with the family arms and motto "Deo Adjuvants." Higher still, above the oriel on the same side of the tower, is a sun dial, with the inscription "Sol me vos umbra." The tower is divided into several stages or floors. On the lower floor is a spacious entrance, to the right of which is the doorway of the spiral staircase leading to the upper floors. The first object which catches the eye upon entering the tower is a bold inscription engraved upon a brass tablet set into the masonry, "In memory of Joseph Jones, of Abberley Hall, Esq., born 18th October, 1816, died 15th October, 1880. This tower was erected by his cousin and heir, John Joseph Jones, of Abberley Hall, Esq., 1883-1885." The first floor above the entrance will be occupied by the winding apparatus, the second as a store room, and the third is the oriel chamber. This room, which is 17 feet 9 inches high, and has oriel windows on three sides, is faced with wrought Bath stone, has a groined ceiling and solid oak floor. It is finished as a look out or pleasance, and it would be difficult to conceive of a place to which one could retire with more security from the cares and intrusions of a busy work-a-day world, for study, meditation, or a calm enjoyment of the beauties which nature has spread around. This chamber is at a height of 40 feet from the ground. The floor above the oriel room is set apart for the clock and carillon machine, and over that is the dial-room, while a stage higher still are the 20 bells, arranged in three tiers, and occupying a height of about 30 feet. The six largest bells are on the lowest tier, the six next in size in the middle, and the remaining eight on the upper tiers. A strong oak framework, supported on stone corbels projecting from the walls, carries the bells; and in order to give their sound a free escape large window openings filled with glass louvres have been provided. The tower is capped with a short spire of stone, on which a weather vane is placed. Mr. J. P. St. Aubyn, of The Temple, London, was the architect, Messrs. Patnam and Fotheringham, London, the contractors, and Mr. J. Dampier, clerk of the works. The bells were cast by Messrs. Taylor and Co., of Loughborough. The hour bell, B flat, has a weight of 3 tons 18 cwt. 2 qrs., and is 6ft. in diameter, and the six next largest range from 3 tons to 1 ton in weight, and the 13 smaller ones, making 20 in all, range from 3 cwt. to 17 cwt. The total weight of the bells is nearly 21 tons. The carillon machine is the work of Messrs. Gillett and Co., Croydon. It is made to play a tune at every third hour - three, six, nine, and twelve o'clock. The tunes are 42 in number, pricked upon six barrels, which are studded with 3,000 brass pins each. The motive power is derived from weights amounting to 15 cwt. in all. The great variety of tunes is obtained by having a series of moveable barrels, which are taken out and exchanged as often as desired. The machine is similar to that erected by Messrs. Gillett, in Worcester Cathedral. As soon as the clock has finished striking the hour at which the tune is to be played it lifts a lever in the carillon which causes the weight to descend, and the mechanism to be set in motion. The musical barrels are thus made to revolve, and these again let off the levers, which in their turn cause the hammers to descend on the bells according to the requisite note. The note having been produced the hammers are restored again to their suspended position by what might be described as an endless "worm-wheel" or "carn," and remain there held in readiness to be released again as before should the same note be required later on. The following is a list of some of the tunes : God Save the Queen.  Hark, Hark my Soul,  God Bless the Prince of Wales,  Abberley Hymn Tune,  Christians Awake,  She Wore a Wreath of Roses,  Easter Hymn,  Vicar of Bray,  Good Friday Hymn,  Oh Dear, What Can The Matter Be,  Haste to the Wedding, Four-leaved Shamrock, Sheds of the Ocean, and "Rule Britannia." The clock was made by Messrs. J. B. Joyce, of Whitchurch, Salop. It shows time upon four mosaic dials, strikes the Westminster quarters upon four bells, and the hour upon the large bell already described. The hammer striking the hour weighs 160 lbs., and has a lift of 12 inches. The clock weighs altogether nearly three tons. It can be wound either by hand, water, or gas power. The frame of the clock is horizontal, cast in one piece; it rests upon two iron brackets which are built into the wall. The pivot holes are screwed on to the frame, so that each wheel may be separately removed. The whole of the wheels [except the winding wheels] are of gun metal, and are cut and finished in an engine. The pinions are of steel hardened and tempered. The escapement is Denison's cravity. With this escapement the pendulum receives its impulse from the gravity-arms acting alternately upon each side, and as these arms are always lifted the same height by the clock, no matter what amount of weight drives them, the vibration and the rate of the pendulum must always be uniform so long as the pendulum remains the same. The escapement also renders the pendulum independent of all vibrations of force and friction in the clock, or the effects of wind on the hands. The variations of temperature on the pendulum are obviated by its being composed of zinc and iron. The pendulum beats 1½ seconds; the ball weighs 2½ cwt. By the addition or subtraction of small weights to the pendulum the clock can be regulated to the greatest nicety. The maintaining power is self-acting. The hammers in the quarter-part are lifted by hardened steel cams fitted into a barrel. The hour cam wheel is one piece of steel. The hammer can be lifted clear of the bells by an eccentric. The weights are hung on steel cords running over iron pulleys which have turned grooves, and steel pivots running in gun-metal holes. The ceremony of publicly opening the new tower took place on Monday, being the birthday of Mr. Jones, and the second anniversary of the laying of the corner stone. Mr. Jones issued invitations to many of his Worcestershire neighbours, and his friends at a distance to attend the ceremony, and a large company assembled. The weather was overcast; there had been much rain and it was somewhat cold, so that it was not very favourable for an out-of-door celebration. At a little before twelve o'clock, however, a procession of those present, headed by Mr. and Mrs. Jones and the Bishop of Hereford, was formed, and passed from the hall to the tower. There the key of the entrance door was handed to Mrs. Jones, who turned the key in the lock and declared the tower open. The Bishop then offered prayer, invoking the Divine blessing, and praying that "the work now completed in this building may set forth the honour and glory of God from generation to generation." "Grant O God, we beseech Thee," continued the prayer, "that wherever the sound of these bells is heard, men's hearts may be moved to consider how short their time here on earth is, how frail and uncertain their condition, and so to number their days that they may seriously apply their hearts to that holy and heavenly wisdom, whilst they live here, which may in the end bring them to life everlasting." At the conclusion of the religions ceremony, Mrs. Jones ascended the tower stairs to the clock chamber, where she set the clock machinery in motion, and exactly at noon, Greenwich time, the deep tones of the great bell were heard announcing the mid-day hour. Then followed the strains of the National Anthem from the carillon machine, and numerous other tunes were played in succession, while in the green hollow at the foot of the mound on which the tower stands a salute of 21 maroons was fired from small mortars, and exploded with loud detonations. Meanwhile, those assembled were permitted to ascend the tower in small parties, to visit the oriel chamber, the clock and carillon machinery, and if they were not too timorous, to venture out upon the narrow but well-protected footway at the top of the tower. From this point a magnificent view would have been possible on a clear day, but on Monday it was too cloudy to enjoy the full beauty of the far spreading landscape, and visitors had to be content with a sense of unusual altitude, and with a view only bounded with the driving clouds and the distant hills. Upon leaving the tower the guests returned to the hall or wandered through the grounds, which present some curious specimens of artificial rockwork, or visited the magnificent conservatory and well-stocked fernery. At half-past one o'clock the company, to the number of about 160, sat down to an elegant luncheon, served by Mr. Mountford, of Worcester. The luncheon was served in a pavilion specially erected upon the lawn in front of the hall and decorated with considerable splendour."
"The Clock and Carillon Tower at Abberley"
Worcester Journal : May 9th 1885 Page 3.

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"A large part of the Elms, Abberley, Worcestershire, the residence Sir Richard and Lady Brooke, was destroyed by fire this morning. Two of the servants were slightly injured and are in the infirmary. They are Margaret Preece [24], housemaid, who has an injured ankle, and Emma Davies [49], cook housekeeper, who is suffering from an injured leg. The Elms is a substantial country house which Sir Richard bought about two years ago. It was then enlarged, two extra wings being built. The fire was still burning late this morning, though it was then hoped that the new part the mansion would not be badly damaged. The two injured servants had narrow escapes. They were awakened by an under housemaid, who was able to get away, but Mrs. Davies and Miss Preece found retreat impossible. They climbed through their bedroom window on a sloping roof, where Miss Preece, after falling through a skylight, reached safety by swarming down a drain pipe. Mrs. Davies was rescued from the roof by workmen on the estate, who brought ladders. Stouport and Kidderminster brigades succeeded in controlling the flames after working for four hours. Sir Richard and Lady Brooke and their family were last night sleeping in the new part of the building for the first time. They escaped in their night attire. Practically the whole of the old part of the mansion was destroyed, but the two new wings were little damaged. Workmen succeeded in saving most of the furniture, including valuable paintings."
"Trapped by Flames"
Worcester Journal : April 25th 1929 Page 5.

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Saint Michael's Church at Abberley [2016]

Newspaper Articles

"Supt. Raby charged William Sheriff and George Perkins, of Abberley, with being drunk at Abberley. Sheriff was fined 10s. and costs; Perkins, 5s. and costs. Thomas Slater, also for being drunk at Abberley, was fined 15s. and costs."
"Drunk and Riotous"
Worcestershire Chronicle : March 6th 1867 Page 4.

"John Mapp, of Clows Top, was fined 2s. 6d. and costs for being found drunk at Abberley. James Clarke, of Abberley, for a similar offence was fined 5s. and costs."
"Charge of Drunkenness"
Worcestershire Chronicle : June 1st 1895 Page 5.

"A few nights ago the house of Thomas Price, of Abberley, was entered, and a piece of beef, in salt, two loaves of bread, and about twenty eggs were stolen. There is no clue to the thieves."
"Robbery From a Dwelling House"
Worcester Herald : April 11th 1857 Page 2.

Saint Mary's Church at Abberley [2016]

"The consecration of the new church as Abberley took place yesterday. Fortunately the weather, which had been most unpromising for the previous two days, proved to be of the most propitious character, and never perhaps was an event of the kind celebrated under more auspicious circumstances. The old church of Abberley, which dated from early Norman times, had been for a long period in a dilapidated state, but being beyond the reach of useful repairs, it was deemed more profitable to build a new edifice, and accordingly through the munificence of the Moilliet family, the work has at length been brought to a successful issue. A site was given by them a few hundred yards from the old church, and on the 27th of July, 1850, the first stone was laid by Miss Moilliet, daughter of James Moilliet, Esq., of the Elms. The work was executed from the design of Mr. J. J. Cole, of London, architect, Mr. J. Davis, of Birmingham, being the builder, and a more creditable work for both architect and builder was never completed. At the same time it should be taken into consideration that both artists had a carte blanche given to them, to fill from their own taste and capability, so that no impediment being in the way, it would have been their own fault had they failed. The new church consists of a chancel, nave, south chapel at east end, two aisles, a vestry north of the chancel, tower and broach spire at the south angle of the western front, and at the west end of the aisles are enclosures for the organ and choir and the baptistry, including hexagonal font, beautifully carved, the gift of the Miss Moilliets. The style is of the pure Geometrical period, and the nave is separated from the aisles by five pointed arches on each side. The roof is of oak, open, and the wall pieces are supported by carved corbels. The floor laid with encaustic tiles, those in the chancel being to a pattern. The Moilliet chapel contains a monument to John Lewis Moilliet, Esq., who died in 1845, and who, being the original founder of the church, his monument forms a part of the south wall of the chapel. There is likewise a memorial window and tablet in the same chapel to Lucy Harriot, the wife of James Moilliet, Esq., who died in 1848. This window contains four subjects of "the acts of Mercy," and was designed by Miss M. A. Cole, sister of the architect, and executed by Wilmshurst of London. The East window is of five lights, and is of plain glass, but design for painted glass is already prepared for insertion, and will greatly improve the interior appearance of the church. Tbe altar railings and the west window of the north aisle were the gift of the architect, while the west window of the nave was presented by the builder. The whole church is built of good hewn stone from Abberley, Elmley, and Ombersley, and is at once a specimen of substantiality and good taste. The same regardlessness of expense has also been exhibited in the fittings, the wrought-iron and brass work of the seats and doors being of the most enduring character. Three of the bells from the old church have been re-cast, by Mears, of Gloucester, and in the new building there are now six bells, bearing the following in scriptions : 1, "Fides." 2, "Spes." 3, "Caritas." 4, "Laus Deo." 5, "Vox inclamantis." 6, "Lux in tenebris." The bells are rung by a new arrangement, which enables one person to ring the whole number, by playing with the fingers on a table with keys. The pulpit is of stone, hexagonal, with diaper ground, cinquefoil arch on each face, and carved spandrels and angles. It bears the inscription, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." The embroidery on the crimson velvet for the altar-cloth, the altar stools, and the altar-carpet, was worked by a number of young ladies, whose names are too numerous to mention. At the east end are illuminated tablets for the Commandments, the gift of Mr. Ingram, of Birmingham. The church is well ventilated, ample vaults below supplying cold air, while in winter a Gothic stove is ready to furnish the required heat. There is a stone porch, ascended by two flights of steps, with folding doors. The church contains about 300 sittings, all of which are free. A visitor would at first be struck with the unusual proportion of the buttresses which support the walls externally, but this was done on account of the position being on a hill, to impart an expression of strength to the building. The views from the site of church are of the most exquisite character, embracing hill and valley, the former clothed with woods, and the latter with the richest verdure. The old church is not to be destroyed, at least, not entirely; the chancel having to serve the purpose of a mortuary chapel [as there will no burials in the yard of the new church], and the rest of the building, it is hoped, will be retained on account of its antiquity and as an interesting ruin. Among the distinguished company present at the consecration and at the subsequent dejeuner at Abberley Hall were the Bishop of Hereford, Lord Lyttelton, Lord Ward, Sir Thomas Wilmington, M.P., Archdeacon Waring, Revds. T. and J. Pearson, H. J. Hastings, T. E. M. Holland, C. W. Landor, J. Vernon, F. Severne, W. Cookes, Shuker, D. Melville, W. Davies, D. Davies, H. Hill, Cawood, jun., J. Levien, W. L. Claughton, E. Winnington Ingram, G. Protheroe, Sandbach, Morgan, Fortescue, H. J. Hastings, J. Croker, J. Miller, Bull, J. R. Cookes, Esq., and the members of the Moilliet family, besides a large number of ladies. A procession of the clergy having met at the entrance the Bishop of Hereford [Abberley being the diocese of Hereford, but county of Worcester], and the petition for consecration having been duly read, the services commenced. There was very large attendance, for one-half of whom only standing-room could be found. The Rev. F. Severne read the regular service of the day in very impressive manner, while the Bishop and assistant at the altar read the rest. The Bishop preached, and took his text from the 122nd Psalm, v. I : "I was glad when they said unto me, let go into the house of the Lord," etc. From hence his Lordship drew a comparison between the feelings of Jews and Christians on the opening of their temples for worship. The Israelite, whether in his own country or in exile, thought of his great temple with solemn enthusiasm and delight, believing it to be the visible proof of God among his chosen people. And great must have been the exultation when the first stupendous temple was erected by Solomon, as also, though in a degree modified by the bitterness of exile, when the second building was reared. He thought that although Christians had not the cloud which overshadowed the tabernacle, and which left no doubt of the presence of God, they had an object of perhaps equal interest in their old parish churches. He spoke most pathetically of the early attachments which make us cling through life to our native parish and especially to its church, where the great events of our life had been recorded; and alluded, as an instance, to the feeling which prompts emigrants to other lands never to rest contented till, by erecting a church in their newly adopted country, they had in some measure made up for the loss of the religious ministrations at home. His lordship commended not only the beautiful liturgy of the church, but its tolerant spirit, by which every man was allowed to embrace his own religious views; and he read an extract from the visitation journal of the Bishop of Cape Town in 1850 to prove how highly prized abroad were the religious privileges which we too often neglected at home. Lastly he spoke of the beautiful and well finished edifice in which they were all assembled, and the munificence which had prompted its erection, at the same time assuring them that although, by means of carving and other decorations, the beauties of architecture were made in a measure to symbolise the great truths of Christianity, these must only be considered as outward appliances, having nothing to do with inward and spiritual religion. After the conclusion of the usual ceremonies the company departed, some to the hall [the beautiful residence of Mrs Moilliet and others to the house of Mr. Severne, the incumbent, at both which places a bountiful supply was spread. At the Hall, more than 100 partook of an elegant repast, served up in several apartments. In the principal one Mr. Moilliet took the chair, being supported on his right by Sir Thomas and Lady Winnington and Mrs. Hampden, the Bishop's wife; and on the left by Lady Sitwell, Lords Ward and Lyttelton, the Dowager Lady Winnington. etc. The two vice chairs were occupied by the Revds. F. Severne and J. Pearson. The following toasts were given from the chair : "The Queen," ""Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, and the rest of the Royal Family," "The Bishop." His Lordship replied, and in allusion to the event of the day, said the church of this country need never despair of prosperity and welfare when so much warm and lively interest was taken in it by the laity, in furtherance of the efforts of the clergy. It should likewise never be forgotten that the Protestant Church had no such inducements as the Roman Catholic to hold out in reward of these acts of piety; it owned no such doctrine as that of purgatory and the salvation of souls by means of almsgiving - to which doctrine the splendid church building efforts of former days must be attributed. His lordship concluded by proposing "The health of Mrs. Moilliet and family." Mr. Moilliet returned thanks on behalf of his mother, who had been unable to participate in the proceedings of the day. "The Lord-Lieutenant of the County" was next given, to which Lord Lyttelton replied, and after speaking of the personal share which Mr. Moilliet had borne in the erection of their beautiful new church, proposed that gentleman's health individually. Mr. Moilliet replied in suitable and modest terms, saying how happy he felt at being enabled to assist in removing the stigma which had long attached to the landowners of the parish in reference to their dilapidated parish church, and concluded by giving "The health of the respected incumbent, the Rev. F. Severne," a gentleman who had watched with intense interest the progress of the work and had afforded his valuable cooperation in bringing it successful issue. Mr. Severne acknowledged the compliment feelingly, saying that the crowning wish of his heart had now been realised. Mr. Moilliet next gave "The health of the architect,"" with an encomium on the excellent manner in which that gentleman had completed his task. Mr. Cole returned thanks. The next toast was "The health of Mr. Ingoldsby," who had rendered his legal services gratuitously for the occasion. Mr. Ingoldsby replied. Rev. F. Severne proposed "The health of Archdeacon Waring,"" to which that gentleman replied, commenting on the great progress which had been recently effected in the diocese, not only as regarded church accommodation, but also in reference to education. It was indeed a pleasing sight to witness a family so well able and so willing to understand the duties as well the privileges of property, raising a building to the service of God, a building so remarkable for its simplicity and dignity, and the erection of which had involved a large portion of the substance of the founders, thus applied to the noblest purpose. Lord Ward requested to propose a toast. Many of the company were perhaps not aware of additional charm which had been thrown over the proceedings of the day by the circumstance of its being the anniversary of the birthday of Mr. Moilliet's twin children, whose health he proposed. Master James Moilliet returned thanks, hoping that in his future life he should realise all their good wishes,  and as "union was strength," he felt all the stronger from the fact of their being twin brothers. [Laughter.] Master John Moilliet also acknowledged the toast, saying it would ever be his desire to aid his brother in promoting the good of others as well as their own. "The health of Lord Ward" was next drunk, which concluded the proceedings. Meanwhile, the school children, boys and girls, had been plentifully regaled in a tent erected opposite the mansion. The tent was gaily decorated with flowers, festoons, etc., while the interior was garnished with roast beef, legs of mutton, dishes of potatoes, and by no means childish plum puddings, which were most pleasant to look upon. The motto outside was "Be merry and wise," and the happy youngsters in every way evinced their full appreciation of the kindness shown to them. Not even the house-dog was forgotten on the occasion, for this handsome specimen of the canine family was adorned with a wreath of flowers around its neck, and the mode in which the animal testified its pride and gratification, by a half-stifled bark at each fresh arrival, and by cutting other capers, was most amusing. At the Rev. F. Severne's hospitable house good spread was made for all who chose to partake. The Rev. J. Miller presided, and the Rev. T. E. M. Holland took the vice chair. The very best of old English fare was provided, and good old standard toasts passed round, not forgetting the worthy rector himself, concerning whom a strong and ardent wish was entertained, that he may yet for many years occupy the position which he and his two preceding ancestors have held for the long period of 120 years! Thus terminated one of the pleasantest days, passed in one of the pleasantest districts of Worcestershire, that have ever experienced. Two of Mr. Severne's predecessors, who also, as he does, held the incumbency of Kyre, held that living between them for 108 years."
"Consecration of Abberley Church"
Worcestershire Chronicle : July 28th 1852 Page 4.

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