Some history on the county of Worcestershire


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Worcestershire Places

Map of Worcestershire

County Map of Worcestershire by Thomas Moule [c.1830]

Worcestershire in the 1868 National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"Worcestershire, an inland county in the Western Midland district of England, near the Welsh border, bounded on the west by Herefordshire, on the south and south-east by Gloucestershire, on the east and north-east by Warwickshire, on the north by Staffordshire, and on the north-west by Shropshire, which entirely surrounds a small detached portion. It extends from 52° 0' to 62° 30' N. lat., and from 2° 14' to 3° 0' W. long., being 35 miles in length from north to south, and 40 miles in extreme breadth, but the average does not exceed 17 miles. It is irregular in outline, having a circuit of about 220 miles, with 9 detached pieces. It contains 472,165 statute acres, of which about two-thirds are arable, and 100,000 acres in pasture and meadow; the waste lands not exceeding 20,000 acres at the utmost.

When viewed from the Malvern Hills on the Herefordshire border, which is the highest point in the county, the surface presents the appearance of one vast, fertile plain, two-thirds of which lie to the E. of the Severn, and is varied chiefly by the vales of Worcester and Evesham, the former stretching north and south for at least 30 miles, and the latter, watered by the Avon, occupies the south-eastern part of the county. In the earliest historical period it was inhabited by the British tribes, Cornavii and Dobuni, neighbours of the Silures, and under the Roman dominion formed part of the Flavia Caesariezsis.

There are traces of the Roman roads called Upper Saltway and Rycknield Street, which traversed the county, but being then for the most part low and woody, it received but little attention from the Romans. On the complete conquest of the island by the Saxons, it was occupied by the powerful tribe of the Wicking, or Hwickians, who at first established a separate commonwealth, but soon came under the Kings of the Mercians, or Middle English. The Saxons soon discovered the advantages of this county for agricultural pursuits, and reduced the whole of the surface under cultivation.

In the 9th and 10th centuries it suffered from the predatory incursions of the Danes, but was at an early period very populous, as implied by the comparatively small size of the county, and its extending on both banks of the Severn, then evidently spanned by bridges. In the reign of Henry III. it was the scene of the battle of Evesham, in which Simon de Montfort and the Barons were overthrown by Prince Edward, afterwards Edward I. During the civil war of Charles I. it was the scene of many stirring incidents, and at Worcester, on the 3rd of September, 1651, Oliver Cromwell routed the Scotch army under Prince Charles.

The land is rich, varied in hill and dale, and well wooded and watered. The extensive vales, particularly that of Worcester, extending through it from north to south, a distance of about 30 miles, and from a quarter of a mile to a mile in breadth, consist of meadows and pastures of rich quality, which may be mown at pleasure; other large tracts are in hop-grounds and orchards, for which the county has been long famous. The quantity of cider and perry made is sufficient not only for domestic consumption, but for exportation to other parts of the kingdom, together with quantities of raw fruit.

In various parts of the county are tracts of oak and ash timber, with numerous oak coppices, and many of the heights bordering the Severn are ornamented with plantations of fir. The hedgerows, too, are stocked with valuable elm timber. The most important produce of the underwoods, which are supposed to be the remains of the ancient forest with which this county was once covered, are poles for the hop-yards and charcoal for the iron-works.

Of the hilly wastes the principal are the upper parts of the Malvern Hills, with the Worcestershire Beacon on the S.W., which are the highest points in the county, rising to the height of 1,444 feet above sea level, or 1,313 above the Severn; and in a line north from them are the Abberley hills, with the Lickey and Clent hills in the eastern, and the Bredon hills in the southern part of the county, being offshoots of the Cotswolds, the summits of which are unenclosed, affording only rocky sheep-walks. The Malvern and Lickey hills are of igneous origin, consisting of granite, sienite, and greenstone, intermixed with quartz.

The precipitous swells of Bromsgrove Lickey are composed chiefly of quartz, and the Cawney and Tansley hills chiefly of basalt. The hills to the north of Dudley consist of mountain limestone of the lias formation, which forms the substratum of nearly the whole south-eastern portion of the county. The remainder of the county, including the extensive vales of Worcester and Evesham, belongs mostly to the New Red sandstone formation, called triassic. In the north-west is the Bewdley coal basin, and in the north the Dudley basin, at which latter place are likewise beds of ironstone.

In the vale of Evesham, in the parishes of Badsey, the three Littletons, and Prior's Cleeve, are quarries of a calcareous flagstone, capable of receiving a high polish; freestone for building is obtained in various places; and the limestone hills upon which stand the castle and part of the town of Dudley are completely undermined by quarries, in which the rare fossil called the sea-louse, or Dudley locust, is found. Common rock salt, and a species of gypsum, occur near Droitwich and Stoke Prior, famed for their brine springs, which are 80 feet down; and at Stourbridge is fine clay for crucibles, and sand for glass.

The soil in the vale is fertile, and in parts alluvial, consisting of a deep rich sediment, which has been deposited by floods during a long series of ages. In the middle, southern, and western districts, the soil is chiefly a rich clay or loam, but in the north a rich loamy sand, and in the east there are some light soils. Brick earth is found nearly everywhere, and clay for fire-bricks, chiefly in the northern part of the county. The mines employ about 2,000 persons, the produce consisting of coals, iron, and salt.

In the rivers salmon, grayling, shad, and lampreys abound. The principal river, the Severn, traverses the county from north to south by Bewdley, Stourport, Worcester, and Upton, to Tewkesbury, where is the last of a series of locks. It is navigable for vessels of 80 tons as high as Worcester, and of 60 tons as high as Bewdley, or 180 miles from the sea. Its tributaries are the Stour in the north, which is canalized throughout, the Warwickshire Avon in the south, which is navigable from Stratford-on-Avon, and receives the waters of the Piddle, the Teme in the west, and the Salwarpe and Leadon or Leddon.

The canals are important, connecting the Severn with the other English rivers, including the Staffordshire and Worcester, which communicates with the Grand Trunk by the Stour; the Dudley, which goes from Birmingham, northwards by Dudley to Stourbridge; the Worcester and Birmingham, which traverses the county in a north-easterly direction, and joins the Birmingham and Stafford; the Droitwich, which connects that town with the Severn; and the Leominster and Kingston canal, in the western part of the county.

There are mineral spas at Malvern, where is a hydropathic establishment, Abberton, Bromsgrove, Churchill, Dudley, Evesham, Tenbury, and a chalybeate spring at Kidderminster. The climate is mild and healthy, even on the Malverns, but on the eastern hills it is colder. Branches of the Midland and West Midland railways traverse the county; the former, which is part of the Birmingham and Bristol line, passes by Bromsgrove and Worcester, and the latter, which takes a circuitous route through the county, passes by Evesham, Worcester, Droitwich, Kidderminster, and Stourbridge, to Dudley; and about 8 miles of the tram railway from Stratford to Moreton, go by Alderminster and Eatington.

The main lines of road from Worcester are, that by Pershore and Evesham to Shipston-on-Stour, that down the valley of the Severn, by Upton and Tewkesbury, to Gloucester, that by Powick and Great Malvern to Ledbury, that by Droitwich and Bromsgrove to Birmingham, that by Spetchley and Kington to Stratford, and another up the valley of the Severn, by Stourport and Kidderminster, to Stourbridge.

The northern part of the county is the chief seat of the hardware and iron manufactures, which are the most flourishing, employing together above 10,000 hands, chiefly at Dudley, Stourbridge, Old Swinford, Wolverley, Cradley, Belbroughton, Bewdley, Hartlebury, King's Norton, Redditch, Feckenham, etc., the last two named places being the seats of the needle and fish-hook manufactures. Other manufactures are those of carpets and rugs at Kidderminster, employing 1,500 hands; porcelain and gloves at Worcester, the former employing 500, and the latter 2,000 hands; glass at Dudley and Stourbridge, employing 400; besides woollens, worsteds, bombazines, silk, ribbons, plush, coach lace, and horsehair, employing together 2,000 persons, chiefly at Bromsgrove and Kidderminster.

There are salt-works, breweries, maltings, tanneries, coke-ovens, alkali, vitriol, and vinegar works, paper mills, horn factories for making combs and lanterns, and several minor branches of industry. For purposes of civil government the shire is divided into East and West Worcestershire, each returning two members to Parliament; and since 1831 into ten divisions, viz:, Worcester, Kidderminster, Hundred House, and Upton, in West Worcestershire; and Blockley, Droitwich, Dudley, Northfield, Pershore, and Stourbridge, in East Worcestershire, instead of the five ancient hundreds of Blackenhurst, Doddingtree, Halfshire, Osbaldstow, and Pershore.

Its capital is Worcester, a cathedral city, assize town, and parliamentary borough, returning two members, and containing a population of 31,227. The other boroughs are Bewdley, Droitwich, Dudley, Evesham, Kidderminster, and Stourbridge, each returning one member to parliament; also 13 market towns, and about 300 villages and hamlets. There are 286 townships and 197 parishes, besides 8 extra parochial places. In the ecclesiastical arrangement it belongs to the dioceses of Worcester and Hereford, in the province of Canterbury. It is governed by a Lord-Lieutenant, custos rotulorum, high sheriff; and 40 deputy-lieutenants, assisted by about 300 magistrates.

The shire is within the Oxford circuit and Midland military district, and belongs to the jurisdiction of the Birmingham Court of Bankruptcy. The population of the whole county in 1861 was 307,397, viz:, 186,431 within the eastern, and 120,966 in the western division, of whom about a third are resident in Worcester, Dudley, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Evesham, and Redditch. The remains of antiquity are not numerous, the principal being those of the Roman station Saline, now Droitwich; of Bredon Hill, Witchbury and Kemsey Roman camps; a British barrow on Clent Heath, and a Danish camp at Conderton, near Witchbury. There are ruins of abbeys at Bordesley and Evesham, and of religious houses at Dodford, Dudley, and Coles Hill."

County Map of Worcestershire by John Cary in his "Traveller's Companion" [1814]

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Photographs of Worcestershire

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Contemporary Photographs

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Related Newspaper Articles

"Police Superintendent Henry Pegg, who retires on a well-earned pension at the end of the present month, has completed 34 years' service in the Worcestershire Constabulary. He joined at the headquarters, Worcester, on October 16th, 1891, and after living in the city for a year he was sent to a division at Oldbury. Having stayed in the town, of Oldbury for 15 months, he went to Langley for three months. He then got married and moved to Romsley [now in the Halesowen Division], where he was stationed for six years. On April 1st, 1899, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and returned to Oldbury, and remained there for eight years and a half. From there he went to Cakemore, where he had charge of a new police station. He stayed there for 18 months, when he was promoted to the rank of inspector, and was transferred to Broadway in July 1909. After having been there for about a year and ten months, he was sent to Pershore, and stayed there for about eight years and a half. He was made superintendent on February 15th, 1920, and was transferred to Evesham, where he has been for about five years and a half. During his long period as a police officer, especially in the northern part of the county, Superintendent Pegg has been connected with all kinds of cases from murder downwards. While stationed at Romsley as a constable ' Romsley was, in those days, a noted pace for poaching - he had a great deal of trouble with three poachers. brothers. They were convicted from time to time of poaching. Superintendent Pegg received information that a ram had been killed. He made investigations, and after a time arrested one of the brothers, and he was convicted owing to a piece of sheep's wool having been found in one of his sleeves by Superintendent Pegg. He was sentenced to four years' penal servitude at Worcester Assizes by Mr. Justice Hawkins. When released, after having served a part of the sentence, he fired a gun at a woman who was cleaning a window. She had given evidence against him. The woman fell into the room and the bullet smashed one of the window panes. Superintendent Pegg was away that day, and the Inspector issued a warrant for the man's arrest. On the following day Superintendent Pegg and a sergeant were sent in search of him. They noticed that the doors of a barn which were usually open wide, were closed. This aroused Supt. Pegg's suspicions. He ascended the ladder, entered the loft, leaving the constable at the foot of the ladder. The man was lying down in a corner of the loft, with his gun beside him. Mr. Pegg took charge of the latter, and ordered the man down the ladder. On reaching the ground he was taken into custody. Some time later the brothers congratulated the Superintendent on his smartness. On nearing his house when snow was on the ground, Mr. Pegg, when some distance from the house, used to walk backwards so that poachers should not know he was at home. But on one occasion the brothers were watching him from behind a hedge, and subsequently admitted to him that they went and got several rabbits! Supt. Pegg is native of Sutton Coldfield, near Tamworth, and he is going to reside there. His father is in his 90th year, and still going strong. Before the ordinary business commenced at the Evesham County Petty Sessions, on Monday, Mr. J. Ashwin [Chairman] handed to Supt. Pegg a gold lever watch with monogram engraved on the back, and the following inscription inside, "Presented to Supt. Henry Pegg by the Evesham County Magistrates on his retirement from the Police Force, August 1925." The Borough Magistrates were also present. In asking Supt. Pegg's acceptance of the watch, Mr. Ashwin said he bad been requested by his fellow magistrates to perform a very pleasant office that morning in asking Supt. Pegg to accept a small present on his retirement from the police force. He [Mr. Ashwin] must express his regret at losing the valued service of an efficient police officer. Supt. Pegg had served, he understood, 33 years in Worcestershire, and he hoped that he and Mrs. Pegg would enjoy many happy years of retirement. He had been asked by the County and Borough Magistrates to hand Supt. Pegg the little present, and to express the wish that he would keep it, and that for many years it would remind him of the happy association in Evesham. Councillor W. Gill Smith [Mayor of Evesham], as Chairman of the Borough Bench, wished to associate himself with all that had been said. He believed Supt. Pegg had performed his very arduous duties to the satisfaction of the Bench and the public. They quite knew he had fully earned his retirement, but they regretted losing him. They sincerely hoped that he and Mrs. Pegg would enjoy a long and happy life in retirement. Mr. A. R. Williams [County Magistrate] also associated himself with all that had been said. He also referred to the fact that Supt. Pegg was stationed at Broadway during the time of the great Champion. Mr. T. A. Cox [Town Clerk], who acted as Magistrates' Clerk that day on behalf of his brother [Mr. L. C. Cox], who is away on holiday, speaking, on behalf of the office of the Borough Magistrates' Clerk and himself, paid a high tribute to the Superintendent, whom he said, had been of great assistance to them in carrying out their work, and to himself as Town Clerk. He thanked the Superintendent for the great assistance he had given him, and the town generally, during the whole of his stay there. He heard that Supt. Pegg was going to Sutton Coldfield. He [the speaker] hoped he would be elected on the Town Council there because from his wide experience he would be able to look after the interests of the town. Police Inspector Davis, speaking on behalf of the police, thanked all for the kind remarks they had made about the Superintendent. The police were very sorry to lose Supt. Pegg. They hoped he would have a long life to enjoy his well-earned rest. Supt. Pegg, in thanking the magistrates for the handsome present, said he would look upon it and be reminded of the great kindness he had received at that Court. It was a very great satisfaction to him to know that his service had given satisfaction to the Court and public. He had always tried to do his duty without fear or favour, and to do to others as he would like them to do to him. He thought that if any police officer of whatever rank tried to carry out his duty on those two principles, he would not be very far wrong. He did not think the public had given him very greet anxiety during his stay in that division. The Supt. related one case in which he had to remonstrate with a prominent resident for having had too much to drink. An address accompanying the watch read: "This watch was presented by the justices of the Evesham Division and the Justices of the Borough Division to Supt. Henry Pegg on his retirement from the Worcestershire Police Force in recognition of the exemplary and efficient manner in which he has for a long time performed the dirties of Superintendent of the Constabulary and Division of the Borough." Then follow the names of the magistrates."
"Supt. Pegg's Retirement"
Evesham Standard : August 29th 1925 Page 1

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