Visitors to today's Oldswinford probably assume that it is part of
Stourbridge. However, the fact is that
Stourbridge was once part of the ancient parish of Oldswinford that also
The first church at Oldswinford is thought to date from the 10th century, a
period when King Eadred granted the thegn called Burhelm six hides at Swine
Ford, a term derived from a brook called Swin. Old was added later to distinguish
the settlement from that at
Kingswinford. The ford refers to a
Roman, and later Saxon, crossing of the brook although the exact position has not
been determined because the waterway has changed course and in terms of flow
over the centuries. It has also been suggested that the ford could refer to a
crossing of the River Stour as the parish of Swinford extended up to
The ancient thoroughfare of Brook Road running into Oldswinford from Chawn Hill
is named after the brook which rises in Ham Dingle. This watercourse fed a pond
located between Oldswinford Castle and the Junction Station. From there it
flowed under a culvert beneath Brook Road and toward Job's Lane where, in the
early part of the 19th century, it powered a small forge. The brook eventually
flowed into the River Stour near to another location named after a crossing -
An early wooden church was replaced during the 14th century with a larger place
of worship. Local red sandstone was used in the construction of the building.
Only the tower remains as the nave of the church was rebuilt in 1842 to the
designs of Robert Ebbles. A chancel by J. A. Chatwin was added in 1898. A
thorough restoration was led in 1938 by Sir Charles Scott who also designed the
gateway and church walls. The building enjoyed a spire for almost two centuries
- it was erected in 1809/10 but, after being deemed 'unsafe', it was dismantled
Oldswinford is also home to the hospital school (founded in 1667) and features
'Artisan Mannerism' detail in the structure's architecture. Formerly known as
The Bluecoats, the school was a gift from the Foley family who made their
fortune by introducing a slitting mill to the Midlands after 'Fiddling Foley'
conducted an industrial espionage mission in Sweden.
Other buildings of note include Old Swinford Hall dating from the mid-18th century. This building was later known as
The Laurels. A walk along the picturesque Church Road will be rewarded with the
site of a number of interesting buildings. The Castle is an early 19th century
partly-castellated structure which was originally built in the Tudor style but
has received several hotch-potch rebuilds. A much older building stood on the
site and is marked on a map dated 1699. This is thought to be a timber-framed
building which came into the ownership of the Hickman family who were closely
associated with Stourbridge's cloth trade. Edward Hickman began adding the
castellations to the building after he gained the freehold in 1782.
is a fine five-bay red brick house dating from around 1700. No's 6-16 Church
Road is a splendid row of old cottages which all feature late Georgian
All text and images
- click here for more information.
"An unprecedented scene occurred in Oldswinford churchyard yesterday afternoon,
at the funeral of Mrs. Susannah Brooks, the wife of a Stourbridge innkeeper.
Rumours had been in circulation that something of an unusual kind was likely to
happen, and for a long time before the hour fixed for the funeral a continual
stream of people had been flowing towards the churchyard until there was an
assemblage of probably fifteen hundred persons, men, women, and children. The
cause of this large gathering at Mrs. Brooks's funeral was a statement that
there was opposition to her sepulchre in a vault in which her father and mother
and child lie, and in which, as is alleged, she was entitled to a resting place.
There may probably be legal proceedings over what occurred, and we cannot enter
into the merits of the question regarding the right of interment in the vault.
The deceased's immediate friends say that she had an unquestioned right; the
claim was resisted by another relative, and hence the scene which took place.
Orford, the sexton, opened the vault on Saturday, and subsequently a letter is
said to have been addressed to the rector, the Rev. C. H. Crauford, objecting to
the coffin being placed therein. Mr. Crauford is seriously unwell, and he sent
the letter to the officers of tile church, though he eventually intervened
himself to a certain extend.
Men were said to have been in the churchyard from four o'clock yesterday
morning, and when the sexton went there at an early hour he found the vault he had opened on Saturday
was bricked up. An hour or two before the funeral,
the rector sent orders to the sexton to open a grave, and he proceeded to
do this close to the vault in question, and had barely finished his task
before the funeral cortège approached the church. Superintendent Freeman,
Sergeant Jones, and a posse of policemen were on duty among the graves, and the
sexton was so surrounded by people that he had to appeal to the police to come and keep
the people back while he and his assistant finished their work. The service was
read in the church over Mrs. Brooks and another corpse brought from the
workhouse, and then the bodies were carried to their respective graves. Cries
were raised by the people of "Open the vault," "Open it," and persons, many
of whom obviously had an object in view, serried up to the closed vault and open
grave as the coffin was placed down by the latter. The Revd. G. F. Adley,
the curate, finished the service at the pauper grave, and seeing the excitement
around Mrs. Brooks's coffin he retired to the vestry for a time. The
cries of "Open the vault" were repeated. There were men present who were said
to have intended opposing the opening of the vault, but the strong feeling
manifested evidently convinced them that this would have been a hazardous
course, and they offered no active resistance. A number of men were ready to
break into the vault, and with the sanction of some of the funeral party, were soon operating on the brickwork, and an aperture
was made for the
admission of the coffin. It was carefully lowered into the vault, and as it was deposited there a ringing and sustained cheer was raised by a large
number of those present. When it was obvious that the internment was to be
in the vault the curate returned, and completed the service. An assault was
committed by one person, and some dirt thrown by a female partisan, but the
presence of the police checked anything further. The officers simply confined themselves to the passive duty of
"keeping the peace," and did not interfere in any way in regard to the breaking
of the vault. When the service was finished,
some men set to work to brick up the vault again, the mourners remaining
near the spot for a time. The men also filled up the empty grave, and the
crowd, after long lingering, melted away.”
Scene in Oldswinford Churchyard"
Birmingham Daily Post
: June 22nd 1875 Page 7.
"At the Stourbridge Petty Sessions, yesterday, before Col. Fletcher and
Messrs. R. L. Freer, C. P. Noel, J. Holcroft, and J. Cochrane, Mr. G. W.
Prescott was summoned by Mr. C. King, for riotous, violent, and indecent conduct
in Oldswinford Church, on December 5th. Mr. Perry supported the information and
said the penalty to which a person convicted of such an offence was liable was a
sum not exceeding £5., or instead, the Bench might commit for two months. Mr. C.
King said he was one of the wardens of Oldswinford Church, and Mr. Prescott was
the other. There was an offertory on Sunday Morning and, after the service, Mr.
Prescott asked in the vestry how the money was to be divided. Witness said it
was not to be divided, but was to be taken into the rectory as the Bishop had
directed. It was after holy communion that this occurred, Mr. Prescott said the
money should not go into the rectory, and snatched up as much of it as he could.
He told the defendant that he had not accounted for all the money collected the
previous Sunday. The collection then was for the Church Missionary Society. He
asked the defendant for the receipt, and said it had not all been accounted for.
Defendant said "You are a liar," Witness said nothing in answer to this.
Defendant backed out of the vestry into the church, and used the most abominable
language to him. Defendant said: "You are a blackguard, you are the biggest
blackguard in the parish, and everybody knows it." He also said, "You are a
young, conceited, stuck-up fool," and used a still more objectionable epithet.
Witness said that Mr. Prescott used another expression of a filthy description.
Witness asked him if he was aware he was in the house of God, Mr. Prescott went
away muttering. Cross-examined: He adhered to his statement that he was a church
warden. Witness told defendant on Sunday week he would have him locked up if he
took the offertory money. Witness had not had the money since Lady-day; it had
been taken into the rectory. The rector was ill, but he did not know he was
incompetent to transact business. Witness did not know that he had written to
the Rev. Mr. Adley, threatening him with any proceedings. He knew there was
£6.12d.4d. paid to Mr. Welch for the Church Missionary Society, but £6.12s.4d.
was collected. Witness did not count the money himself. He told defendant that
he should send for the police if he took the money, and that he had not
accounted for all the money the Sunday before. Several witnesses, including the
Rev. Mr. Maugham [curate] and the clerk, were heard in support of the complaint.
Mr. Prescott said the proceedings were a persecution against him, and were to
please a certain clique in the parish. He submitted that Mr. King was not
legally churchwarden, and if not churchwarden, he had no right to be in the
vestry and to say where the money should go. He quoted a case with the view of
showing that a vestry was not part of a church, urging that the charge must fail
on that point; but with regard to the main evidence, he urged that there were
discrepancies in the evidence, and he denied using the most offensive
expressions attributed to him. It was after Mr. King accused him of not having
accounted for all the money the Sunday before that he said he was a liar, if he
said so; but he did not use the other language. He regretted anything improper
should occur as much as anyone, but he did not like to be charged with
dishonesty when he had duly accounted for the money he took the Sunday before,
and paid the next morning to the secretary of the Church Missionary Society. The
Rev. G. F. Adley, the senior curate, was called by Mr. Prescott, and deposed to
what took place in the vestry down to the time when Mr. Prescott called Mr. King
a liar. It was after Mr. King accused him of not accounting for all the money
the Sunday before. Witness at that point went away. The cross-summons against
Mr. King for riotous, violent, and indecent conduct in the church, on November
28th, was then called on, and Mr. Adley was examined by Mr. Prescott, in support
of it. Mr. Adley said there was a collection on the 28th for the Church
Missionary Society. He afterwards heard Mr. King threaten to have Mr. Prescott
locked up. Mr. King had previously said the money should go into the rectory.
Mr. Prescott said it should not, and went away with it. It was as he was going
out that Mr. King used the threat. Mr. Perry said there was no case for him to
answer. The Bench considered the case against Mr. Prescott fully proved, and
fined him £5. and costs, and they dismissed the cross-summons against Mr. King.”
of Brawling in Oldswinford Church"
Birmingham Daily Post
: December 11th 1875 Page 8.
All text and images
- click here for more information.
Bird in Hand
Labour in Vain
Shrubbery Cottage Inn
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Oldswinford area you can
contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for
"On Saturday, a cat, belonging to Mr. Brentnall, of Oldswinford, kittened
in the pig sty adjoining the house, in which are two large store pigs. The
kittens are suffered to remain unmolested by the pigs, and even to share their
bed. The old cat attends her charge, and all appear ""on the best possible
terms." As another of natures freaks, we may state that in an adjoining garden
there is an apple tree full blossom."
: September 29th 1847 Page 5.
"On Saturday night a person named Henry Round was walking near Oldswinford
in a state of intoxication, when by some person or other he was dispossessed of
£10.10s., which the party has since forgotten to return.”
: April 4th 1857 Page 4.
"Thomas Farmer, haulier, from Long Lane, was charged with being drunk and
incapable. The defendant's horse and cart were met one night coming from
Kidderminster towards the Oldswinford gate, by P.C. Kennedy. There was no
driver, so he stopped the horse, which appeared to have been down, and after
waiting about quarter of an hour the defendant came up and claimed the vehicle
as his own. He was drunk, and, like his horse, seemed to have been down. Kennedy
drove the cart to the station at Stourbridge, and when the defendant had got a
little bit sober he was allowed to go on his journey. The defendant produced a
lot turnpike tickets to prove that he had been a long journey on that day. Fined
5s. and costs.”
: March 26th 1856 Page 4.
"John Everton, a higgler, was ordered to pay expenses for being drunk at
Oldswinford, and unable to attend to his team. It was his first known offence,
and he urged that he was " very quick come over." "You know, Gentlemen," said
he, addressing the Bench, "it does soon come over some folks." "Oh, yes," said
Mr. King, particularly when they have had enough of it." [Laughter.]”
: June 10th 1852 Page 3.
Old Maps of Oldswinford
Old Swinford Hospital
Saint Mary's Parish Church
Welcome to Stourbridge
"Whoever serves beer or wine watered down, he himself deserves in them to
1868 Noake's Guide to
Oldswinford parish includes the comparatively modern town of Stourbridge, the
former name being derived from a ford over the Swin brook at this place, and the
addition of "Old" to distinguish it from Kingswinford. Stourbridge derives its
name from a bridge over the Stour, and the earliest known mention of it is in a
deed of 1358. Oldswinford contains the township of Oldswinford, the hamlets of
Lye, Wollescote, Upper Swinford, and Wollaston, in the county of Worcester, and
the hamlet of Amblecote, in the county of Stafford. There is still the manor of
Oldswinford, of which the Earl of Dudley is lord, and the manor of Bedcote, the
boundaries of which are identical with those of the township of Stourbridge, and
containing 363A., 3R., 30P. Earl Dudley is lord of this manor also, but in
neither this nor Oldswinford has a manorial court been held for many years.
There is not a copyholder in either manor, and hence no necessity for holding
courts. The Earl of Stamford and Warrington is lord of the manor of Amblecote,
but exercises no rights or control in consequence, and I am not aware of a court
leet having been held at any period, certainly not during the last forty years.
The area of the entire hamlet is 513A., 0R., 19P. Acreage of Oldswinford, 2,559.
The bridge over the Stour was no doubt a great attraction for traders and
settlers, and in the fifteenth century the existence of a weekly market and two
fairs denoted that Stourbridge must have been then a considerable village. An
old MS. states that coal and ironstone were worked here in the reign of Edward
III ; but if so, it could not have been to any great extent, as the population
of both Oldswinford and Stourbridge combined numbered only 182 families in the
time of Elizabeth. The free school
founded here by Edward VI, and Oldswinford Hospital for feeding, clothing,
educating, and apprenticing boys, founded by T, Foley in 1670 [and both of which
institutions are still in existence, the hospital having an income of £3,500 per
annum], had no doubt an important influence on the increase and prosperity of
the parish; and then the clothing, glass, and iron trades were carried on here
for upwards of two centuries by the Foleys, Scotts, Hickmans, and other
families, who made large fortunes thereby. The clothing trade expired here about
half a century ago. Glass making was introduced to Stourbridge by French
Protestant refugees from Lorraine in 1557, and the town has long been the
principal seat of this trade. Former restrictive duties kept down the
consumption of glass to a comparatively small amount until 1845, when the
abolition of the duties took place, and the increase of the manufacture was soon
enormous. It is still on the increase, and the principal manufacturers now are
Messrs. Thomas Webb and Sons, Dennis Park; W. Walker and Sons, Heath; Richardson
and Smith, Holloway End; Joseph Webb, Coalbournbrook; Hodgetts, Richardson, and
Co., Wordsley; Webb, Mills, and Stewart, Wordsley; J. Webb and Co., Wordsley;
Williams and Stevens, Moor Lane; the Platts Plate-glass Company, and numerous
cutting shops. The manufacture of fire bricks and the sale of clay for the glass
works has become almost as important an interest as glass itself. This clay is
found under the coal strata, and being capable of resisting intense heat is
therefore used for glass-house pots, and the bricks in making glass furnaces; it
is also exported in large quantities, and formed into crucibles and other
vessels requiring great durability. Clay retorts for gasworks and also baths are
manufactured. Nails and other articles are likewise fabricated here. Coal mines
are a short distance from the town, being a portion of the Staffordshire beds,
and iron-stone is abundant. All these and many other industries of the place are
greatly promoted by the agency of the canal and the rail. The 0. W. W. Railway
[now part of
Great Western] was opened to this town on the 1st of May, 1852; and recently the
town has obtained a direct communication with Birmingham by a new line via the
Lye, Cradley, Rowley, &c. Mr. Akroyd is chairman of this company. This line
accommodates a rich mineral and manufacturing district, passing through that
portion of the thick coal which lies east and south of the Pensnett district,
and in which immense quantities of fire-bricks, iron, chains, cables, and nails
are made, of the magnitude of which traffic some idea may be formed from the
fact that one company alone [the New British] makes 1,000 tons of pigs weekly.
Besides this the town has canal accommodation, and is therefore well situate for
Forty years ago the population was but 4,000, whereas now there are more than
double that number, and the population returns in 1861 for Oldswinford parish
[probably including Stourbridge] was 22,958. Till last year the government of
the town was vested in a Board of Commissioners, a self-elected body,
distinguished for the acrimony and personality infused into its proceedings by
one or two of its members, but nevertheless it died in comparatively good odour,
having left scarcely any debt to its successor. A new Town Improvement Act was
procured in 1865-6, at a cost of over £2,000, under which the township is
divided into three wards, each electing nine Commissioners. The first election
took place in the autumn of 1866, when Mr. Akroyd was elected chairman, Messrs.
Harward and Co., solicitors, and Mr. J. Taylor, clerk. With the local are
incorporated the several public Acts of 1847, by which the Commissioners are
enabled to do any act that may be necessary for the improvement of the town.
The town is well supplied with water by the Waterworks Company, of which Mr. J.
Cochrane is chairman, and Mr. S. Brooks is chairman of the Gas Company. The
Health of Towns Act is applied. The Board of Guardians is presided over by Mr.
G. Granger, of Hales Owen, and Mr. G. Holloway is clerk to the Board. There is
an excellent Rifle
Corps, Captain James Walker; a market and corn exchange; two banks - the Old
Bank, a branch of the Birmingham and Midland, and the Stourbridge and
Kidderminster; a Mechanics' Institute and Church of England Young Men's
Association; a Town Library, founded in 1790; schools, and many other lesser
institutions, charities, &c.
Stourbridge gives name to a County Court district, which includes the parishes
of Oldswinford, Kingswinford, Kinver, Enville, Halesowen [except Oldbury and the Warleys], Pedmore, Hagley, and Clent. A new Court-house has recently been
erected of stone, having a handsome exterior, and containing every requisite
accommodation for the large amount of business transacted. During the year 1867
upwards of 6,200 plaints were entered. Judge, F. Dinsdale, Esq., Leamington ;
registrar, J. Harward, Esq.; high bailiff, W. Akroyd, Esq.; all of whom have
held their appointments from the time the County Court Act of 1846 came into
Oldswinford Church was rebuilt by subscription in 1843, at a cost of about
£5,000, and contains upwards of 1,400 sittings, about one-half of which are
free; Rev. C. H. Craufurd rector; value of living, £780; Earl Dudley patron.
Stourbridge has two churches - St. Thomas's and St. John's. The former was
erected in 1735, and enlarged in 1809. Till recently the election of the
minister of St. Thomas's was vested in the inhabitants, and very unseemly
consequences arose at the elections, which were generally contested with much
fierceness, the Dissenters having then a right to vote. The present incumbent,
the Rev. Hugh Sherrard, was elected by the inhabitants, but within the last two
or three years the church has been fortunately brought under the control of the
Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who have endowed it with an income of £200 per
annum; and although the inhabitants have now lost their right of election this
is amply compensated by the suppression of the scenes which usually occurred in
the exercise of that right, and by the assignment of a district or parish for
the church. After
remaining 130 years without being consecrated, the church recently received that
sacred rite at the hands of the Bishop of Worcester.
St. John's District Church was built in 1859-61, on a site in Warehouse Field;
architect, Mr. Street; cost, £4,000, of which Earl Dudley gave £1,000; and it is
endowed with £200 out of the income of the parish church at the next avoidance
of the living. Rev. T. Williams incumbent; Earl Dudley patron.
At the Lye is a church, built and endowed by the late T. Hill, Esq., of Dennis,
in 1843. Wollaston also has a church, erected and endowed by W. 0. Foster, Esq.,
M.P., and is a separate parochial district, of which the Rev. J. Gilbank is
minister. Amblecote has likewise a district church, of which the Rev. J. Boldero
is incumbent. It is worthy of note that the whole of the church erections, and
(with the exception of Oldswinford, which has extensive glebe and a small amount
of tithe payable in the hamlet of Amblecote) the whole church endowments are the
result of voluntary effort. There has been but one church-rate levied during the
last forty years, and that was in the year 1845. The present rector of
Oldswinford, Rev. C. H. Craufurd, is opposed to church-rates, and his
parishioners by their liberality amply provide for the decent and orderly
performance of Divine worship. The annals of Dissent in this town commence with
(so far as known) the Quakers. In 1674, Sarah Reynolds, a poor Quaker woman with
five children, was sent to Worcester gaol for not paying 9d. towards the repair
of the "steeple-house." The Quakers erected a meeting-house here in 1680. In
1697 the house of John Scott was licensed for Divine worship, and in 1715 the
house of Samuel Carter. The Presbyterians date from 1698, at which time the Rev.
G. Flower, domestic chaplain to Mr. Foley, of Prestwood, began to preach
alternately at Prestwood and Stourbridge, and so continued to do in the chapel
(now a warehouse) in Coventry Street until 1716, when he ceased to be chaplain
at Prestwood, and for many
years he continued to be the minister of the Stourbridge congregation alone. The
Presbyterians have a chapel in High Street, erected in 1788, of which the Rev.
D. Maginnis is minister. An Independent chapel was erected in 1810; Rev. James
Richards minister. There are also a Wesleyan chapel [Rev. J. Hanna], a Catholic
chapel, to which a nunnery has been added [Rev. Mr. Kean], a Baptist Chapel
[Rev. B. Bird], New Connexion Methodist [Rev. J, White], and Primitive
Joanna Southcote had a champion here some years ago in no less a person than the
rector of the parish, Rev. T. Foley, who kept a horse always ready saddled
to convey him to the New Jerusalem; who was frequently visited by the lady, and
published in an advertisement a long vindication of her pretensions,
Two or three more historical items and I have done with Stourbridge. In the year
1800, the colliers being in great distress from a scarcity of provisions, the
farmers were requested to bring their wheat into market at 15s. a bushel and
barley at 8s. In 1817 a petition was presented to Parliament from this parish,
complaining that the poor-rate assessed on houses amounted to 29s. in the £; on
the rent of farming land to 32s.; and on other kinds of land to 61s. Out of a
population of 4,381 no fewer than 1,868 received parish relief! and only 158
persons were able to contribute to the poor-rate In 1830, Michael Toll and
Charles Wall were hung at Worcester, the former for the murder of Ann Cook, at
Oldswinford. After his execution a piece of blanket was found in his stomach, he
having swallowed it to produce suffocation. Wall had murdered a little girl
named Sally Chance, whom he threw into a lime-pit, as a preparatory step to
marrying her mother!