Some history on Pershore in the county of Worcestershire
Pershore [or Pearshore, as Habingdon hath it, on account of the quantity of pears grown here] is a town in two parishes [Holy Cross and St. Andrew's], situate 9 miles S.E. of Worcester, 6 W. of Evesham, 8 N.E. of Upton-on-Severn and 102 W. of London ; is in the eastern division of the county and hundred of Upper Pershore ; is also the head of a county court district, polling place. union, and petty sessional division ; annual rateable value, £10,665 for Holy Closs, including Walcot and Wadborough, and £6,292 for St. Andrew's, including Pensham ; the acreage of Holy Cross is 3,954, and of St. Andrew's 610.
History Pershore had an abbey and a market in Saxon days, but historians are not agreed as to who was the founder of the former. Leland ascribes its foundation to Oswald, nephew of Ethelred, King of Mercia, A.D.689. It was re-modelled in 984 by Edgar, as a monastery for Benedictine monks, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, St. Peter, and St. Paul, and afterwards to Edburga, eighth daughter of Edward the Elder. What with the rapacity of the Abbots of Westminster, who owned a great part of the Pershore district, the pillage of Danes and Normans, and the fires of the middle ages, the monastery had its full share of misfortunes. Its noble Norman church was partly burnt and re-built in 1223-39, but the Norman nave remained till the Dissolution, when it was destroyed, and the only remains of the building now left are the choir, south transept, and tower. The town sent two members to the Parliament of Edward I. [A.D. 1290], but has never since taken a part in legislation. A fair was given to the town on the feast of St. Edburgh [June 26] and two following days. This is still held, as also two others, on Easter Tuesday and the last Tuesday in October. The ancient fair has been for centuries quite an institution in this part of the county ; it was formerly held in the Abbey churchyard, but the profanity of the practice led to its removal in 1836, Another ancient usage in the old fair-time was for any person who hung out a bush at his door to have the privilege of selling ale without a licence during the three days' fair ' this also was suppressed in 1863. The town greatly declined after the destruction of its monastery, and did not recover till the middle of the last century.
Present Conditions, Trade, etc. Pershore is a particularly neat and clean town, situate in the beautiful vale of Evesham, and mainly on the west bank of the Avon, being surrounded by orchards, fertile meadows, and highly cultivated gardens. The approaches to it are exceedingly good, and there are numerous gentlemen's seats, in the vicinity. There is a station on the Great Western Railway about a mile and a quarter distant, an omnibus from the "Three Tuns Hotel" meeting all trains. The town is also accessible by the Birmingham and Bristol section of the Midland railway, the nearest station being at Defford, 3 miles S.W. The streets are wide and paved ; the principal thoroughfare is three quarters of a mile long, the northern portion being called High Street, and the southern Bridge Street ; both diverge from a spacious area called Broad Street ; most of the houses in these streets having, been re-built, this ancient town has a modern, substantial appearance. The town is divided into the parishes of Holy Cross and St. Andrew's ; the main street is in the latter parish, while the rest of the town [Newlands, etc.] is in the great or Abbey parish, Holy Cross, reaching, nearly to Stoulton. The various chapelries, hamlets, and manors in these parishes will be described, at the end of this article. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are lords of the manor, the same having lately passed from the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, with all privileges except nominating a vicar to the living. Courts leet are held here occasionally. The principal landowners are the Earl of Coventry, Earl Somers, Sir John Gage Sebright, Bart., John, Whitaker-Wilson, Esq., George Whitaker, Esq., John C. Dent, Esq., A. R. Hudson, Esq.., Colonel, Scobell, General Marriott, E. Humphries, Esq., and the vicar of Pershore. The soil is a rich clay ; subsoil, clay and gravel. Market gardening is carried on very briskly in the neighbourhood, and furnishes employment for a great number of hands ; immense quantities of fruit and vegetables are sent to Worcester, Birmingham, London, Manchester, and other places. The wool trade is also carried on to a very considerable extent. Mr. Edward Humphries, of the Atlas works, is a large manufacturer of agricultural machines and implements ; there are upwards of 150 men employed at these works. Many of the females are employed in making gloves for the Worcester houses. A weekly market is held on Tuesdays, but is poorly attended. Periodical stock sales have been established here. The Worcester City and County Banking Company, Limited, and the Gloucestershire Banking Company have agencies here. There are two, excellent commercial hotels and posting houses [the "Three Tuns" and the "Angel"] in the centre of the town ; a large and commodious assembly-room at the former is used for balls and other entertainments. The magistrates for Pershore division hold petty sessions at the Police court every alternate Tuesday, at 11 a.m. The Police station, a neat brick building in High Street, was built in 1865, at a cost of upwards of £2,000. The county court is held bi-monthly at the registrar's offices, Bridge street. The Union workhouse, situate on the N.E. side of the town, is a brick building erected in 1836, at a cost of nearly £3,000. It was enlarged in June, 1872, and a new chapel added ; it will now accommodate nearly 220 inmates. The guardians meet at the Boardroom every alternate Tuesday at 11 a.m. The Pershore union district comprises thirty-nine parishes, extending over an area of 52,269 statute acres, and contained in 1861 a population of 13,865 ; and in 1871, 14,142. The Music Hall in High street is used for lectures, entertainments, foresters' lodge, etc. The Inland Revenue office is at the Angel Hotel. Gas works were established in 1853, and are the property of a private company. There is a depot and armoury for the rifle corps ; offices for Commissioners of taxes, turnpike trustees, etc. also friendly societies, working men's clubs, and loan societies. The following are the principal charities in connection with the town :- Henry Smith, Esq., left £50 ; Charles Oldacre, Esq., and Susannah Tovey, each left £100; the late Francis Davis, Esq., left £100 in 1869, and several smaller sums have been left by benevolent individuals, the interest of which is annually distributed to the poor.
Places of Worship and Schools. The principal church is that of the Holy Cross, which once formed part of the stately abbey, and is supposed to have been about 250 feet long and 120 feet broad ; the only parts now remaining are the choir, transept, and massive square tower, which contains a fine peal of eight bells. This church was restored by Mr. [now Sir] George Gilbert Scott, R.A., in 1862-4, at a cost of about £6,000. Messrs. Collins and Cullis, of Tewkesbury, were the contractors employed. Among the finer features of the building are the beautiful Early English work of the choir, the Norman masonry of the transept, and the noble lantern of the tower [14th century], the latter of which Sir G. Scott believes was constructed by the architect who built the central tower of Salisbury. The vaulting and groining of the choir is unsurpassed in the county for beauty of outline and construction. There are interesting monumental remains, stone effigies, and memorial windows. The memory of Dr. Williamson [the former respected vicar of the town, and who was the mainspring of the restoration] has been perpetuated in the church by a handsome memorial, consisting of two stained windows in the western wall beneath the tower, and by a fine specimen of wall painting, executed by Clayton and Bell, at a cost of £600. Two large stained windows by Hardman and Co. have been inserted in the south aisle as a memorial to the late Edwin Ball, Esq., who was vice-chairman of the restoration committee. These windows represent scenes from the history of Pershore Abbey ; they cost upwards of £300. A stained window in the north aisle, by Lavers and Barraud, is in memory of the late Francis Davies, Esq. Four new stained windows were inserted in the clerestory in September, 1872. They are the work of Messrs. Clayton & Bell. One window is placed on the north side, the subject being a full-length figure of John the Baptist. Three have been placed on the south side, the subjects being full-length figures of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke. A handsome brass lectern was presented to the church in 1868, in memory of Mrs. Marriott, formerly of Avon Bank. It is the work of Messrs. Hart, and bears a suitable inscription. Pinnacles were added to the tower in 1870, at a cost of £350, of which £100 was given by J. C. Dent, Esq., and £100 by Miss Porter, the remainder being defrayed by subscription. These pinnacles very much improve the appearance of the tower. The church of St. Andrew [which is separated from Holy Cross burial ground by a narrow road], is an ancient edifice, with chancel, nave, and side aisles, all requiring restoration, It has a low square tower containing six bells. The earliest register of Holy Cross is dated 1540, that of St. Andrew's 1641. The living, which comprises both parishes, besides the chapelries of Drake's Broughton, Pinvin, and Bricklehampton, is in the diocese and archdeaconry of Worcester and rural deanery of Pershore ; value, £500, with residence [attached to St. Andrew's] ; patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster ; vicar, Rev. Robert Edward Bartlett, M.A., Trinity College, Oxford. The Rev. Herbert John Dale, B.A., New College, Oxford, is the curate. The National school for boys and girls was erected in 1840, at a cost of £1,000. It is situate in Defford Road, and is a commodious brick building, overgrown with ivy. There is a residence for the master attached. The average attendance is - boys, 75 ; girls, 65. The infant school [with residence for mistress] is also in Defford Road ; average attendance, 76. Both schools are under Government inspection. The British school, in. High Street, was erected 1817 ; average attendance, 100. The union children attend the National school. The Baptist chapel, in Broad Street, was built about 1650, but being much decayed, was rebuilt by subscription on the same site, at a cost of about £1,000.
Broughton [or Drake's Broughton] is a hamlet and chapelry of Holy Cross parish, distant 2½ miles N.N.W. of the town, and situate on the main read to Worcester, from which it is distant 6½ miles S.E. The church, or chapel of ease, is a small stone building erected in 1857, at a cost of £1,057,; to which the late Rev. Dr. Williamson subscribed £500. It consists of nave, chancel, bell-cot, and one bell, and has accommodation for about 90 persons. Divine service is held once on Sundays. A National school, to hold about 45 children, was built in 1869 ; architect, S. W. Dawkes, Esq.
Walcot [or Walcot-cum-Membris], is a hamlet of Holy Cross, distant 2 Miles N.W. of Pershore.
Wadborough is also a hamlet belonging to Holy Cross, distant 4 miles from Pershore. Here is a station on the Birmingham and Bristol branch of the Midland railway.
Caldewell, in the parish of Holy Cross, is the seat of John Whitaker, Wilson, Esq., J.P., [chairman of the magistrates for Pershore division and of the Pershore guardians], and George Whitaker, Esq., J.P., [chairman of Worcestershire Chamber of Agriculture]. This house is in the Kempsey [Worcester] postal district.
Allesborough is a manor of which the Earl of Coventry is lord. It formerly conferred the inferior title of Baron on the Coventry family. The manor commences close to Pershore, and extends over the whole of Walcot and Broughton.
Abbot's Wood, 4 or 5 miles from Pershore, forming the boundary of Holy Cross parish.
Pensham, a hamlet of St. Andrew's, 1 mile S. of the town, is chiefly the property of George Whitaker, Esq.
Pinvin, a chapelry of St. Andrew's, 1½ mile N., will be found under a separate head. The Pershore station of the Great Western railway is in this hamlet.
Bricklehampton is also a chapelry in the parish of St. Andrew, distant 4 miles S.E. of the town, 4 S.W. of Evesham, and 13 S.E. of Worcester. The area of the chapelry is 800 acres ; rateable value, £2,200 ; population in 1861, 187 ; in 1871, 181, with 41 inhabited houses. The Dean and Chapter of Westminster are lords of the manor, and George Gwynn Elger, Esq., Mrs. Bagnall, and Thomas Phipps, Esq., are the principal landowners. Bricklehampton Hall, a handsome mansion lying adjacent to the village, has recently been purchased by George Gwynn Elger, Esq. [See also Bricklehampton].
Wick Burnel and Wick Warren. These are manors extending over the chapelry of Wick and Mr. Hudson's estate in Holy Cross. A. R. Hudson, Esq., who resides at the ancient manor-house, formerly in possession of the Hazlewood family, is lord of these manors. The village of Wick is pleasantly situated near the river Avon, about 1 mile E. from Pershore, and its higher grounds command extensive views of the Malvern and Bredon hills. There are several gentlemen's seats in this parish ; Avon Bank, the mansion of Major-General Thomas Beckett Fielding Marriott, J.P. ; Bryn Issa, recently purchased by John Henry Evans, Esq. ' Vandyke Court, the seat of Henry Hudson, Esq., J.P. Wick House [before noticed], Alfred Ricketts Hudson, Esq. Upper Wick House, Charles Smith Hudson, Esq. ; and Endon, W. W. Woodward, Esq. [See also Wick.]
Chevington or Chivington, a place 2 miles N.W.
Pershore Portsmouth : a manor of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are lords.
Binholme Pershore : a manor of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are lords.
This photograph shows the place where Bridge Street meets High Street. Many of the buildings seen here have survived into the 21st century. The large building to the right is No.1 Bridge Street and the first shop with the sun canopy extended across the pavement is No.1 High Street. This, along with the adjoining retail premises at No.3 were supposedly erected on the site of the King's Head Inn. At the time of this photograph the two shops were listed under Bridge Street rather than High Street. The first emporium was a pharmaceutical dispensary run by the chemist Arthur Smith. There is a cask in the gutter in front of the shop. A little curious perhaps, but in August 1892 Arthur Smith, who was also mineral water manufacturer, successfully obtained a licence to sell bottled cider and perry to be consumed off the premises. I guess the police would have turned a blind eye to one cask in the street, However, in September 1897 the chemist was charged with street obstruction when he had 35 ginger beer cases outside the shop on the pavement. He told the Bench at the Petty Sessions that he had put them there for loading and unloading but they fined him for the obstruction. The chemist did not live on the premises during the Edwardian period but was in residence with his wife, Minnie, at Myrtle Cottage at Abbey Place. The couple had a large family and were able to hire servants to undertake their domestic chores. William Smith died in November 1933, an event that was regarded as a loss to Pershore. The Cheltenham Chronicle reported that his passing "will be mourned throughout a wide district. He and his predecessor, Francis Allen, held the same business for over 100 years. Mr. Smith was one of three executors [Mr. John Griffin Baker, of Evesham Road, Cheltenham, is now the sole survivor] of the late Charles Ganderton, a wealthy wool stapler, of Pershore, who left £7,000 to Worcester Infirmary, and £500 to establish a cottage hospital for Pershore, conditionally that a like sum was raised within a year of his death. Mr. Smith's share in raising not merely £500, but thousands of pounds, for the establishing and maintenance of this institution, is of lasting credit to his memory. He was its first hon. secretary, and with his masterful personality, he contrived to convert great pecuniary benefit to the hospital from nearly all the other movements in the town in which he successfully engaged, such as, more particularly, the annual flower shows in the summer and the chrysanthemum shows in the autumn. He was joint hon. secretary with Mr. J. G. Baker of the District Horticultural Society. He was captain of the fire brigade for years, and his late brother, Mr. Ernest Smith, the first lieutenant."
Arthur Smith had succeeded Francis Allen at the pharmacy. The latter, along with his wife Anna, lived on the premises. Born in Shipston-on-Stour, he practised in Pershore as a chemist for 53 years before retiring to The Laurels at Fladbury. He died in his 76th year in January 1893. Mary Allen, the only daughter of Francis and Anna, when resident at Field Hurst at Cheltenham, used some of her inherited wealth to place money in trust for the aforementioned Cottage Hospital. She made a provision that half of the income would be spent on district nursing within the parish.
The large house in the foreground of the above photograph, next to the chemist's shop is now No.1 Bridge Street. However, at the time of this photograph it was known as Clifton House and home to the surgeon Herbert Emerson. He would however move to Pershore House in the High Street. After being in practice for over a quarter of a century he relinquished his practice at the end of 1923. During his time at Pershore he rendered valuable service in connection with the Cottage Hospital, the Cooperative Market, the Working Men's Club, and the Town Hockey Club. He accepted a temporary engagement with the P. and O. Company, and his successor at Pershore was Dr. H. F. Kennedy, of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Not that Herbert Emerson was done with Pershore - he continued to live at Pershore House on Defford Road with his wife Edith. When he first came to Pershore in the 1890s, the Norwich-born surgeon was a partner to Dr. Martin Woodward. During the First World War he served in France with the R.A.M.C. For over 19 years he was a district councillor and he was also chairman for many years of the Conservative Association, the British Legion. the Pershore Club and the Working Men's and Old Comrades' Association. Other organisations with which he was connected included the Cottage Hospital, the old Horticultural Society and the Church. In his younger days he was a keen hockey player and at the turn of the century was captain and secretary of the Pershore Hockey Club.
Returning to this beautiful property, thought to date from the late 18th century, it was formerly the home of the aforementioned Ganderton family. Thomas Ganderton made a fortune as a wool stapler. There was a wool barn to the rear of the adjacent chemist's shop. Following his death in 1847 it was commented in the Worcestershire Chronicle that "the strict integrity of the deceased in all commercial transactions, and his unbounded hospitality [especially on Pershore fair days] are matters of public notoriety." He was succeeded by his son, Charles, who continued the successful business. He died in 1893 at this residence now known as Bridge House.
The wonderful thing about Pershore is many of its old buildings in Bridge Street have survived. Again, there are few alterations from this image to a photograph taken today. One exception is No.9 which is somewhat different. The horse and cart in the distance is parked outside what used to be the fire station. Restored in 1973, this building in more recent years has been known as Belle House. With its decorative wrought-iron balcony, Bedford House at No.7 shares some characteristics of the former chemist's shop at No.1 High Street. At the time of this photograph, the house was occupied by the draper and outfitter, Peter Hanson, who had lived here with his Breconshire-born wife Jane. The son of a farmer, Peter Hanson hailed from Bromsgrove. His parents were married for more than 70 years and both lived into their 90s. His mother hailed from Wyre and her parents once kept the Anchor Inn. One of eight sons, Peter Hanson also enjoyed a long life and died in his 87th year in 1932. He set in business as a draper after moving to Pershore with his wife in 1869. He touched the lives of many in the town as he held the voluntary secretaryship of no less than five Provident clubs, and if anyone was so poor to be unable to take advantage of membership he either paid their fees himself, or got someone else to oblige. For years he was hon. secretary of the town fire brigade and the horticultural society; was prince of collectors for all charitable causes; served as a guardian of the poor, a district councillor and a parish councillor. He was quite a character and everybody called him "Sir Peter." A work of art was the caricature of him hanging in the commercial room of the Royal Three Tuns Hotel, which was executed by a celebrated Italian artist. He and Jane had six children. Their three sons were buried in South Africa. All served in the South African campaign. The couple's eldest daughter, Amy, married William Montague Hunt and was the founder of Arnold House School at St. John's Wood in 1905.
The large house on the right in the above photograph is Perrott House, a magnificent building thought to have been erected around 1770, possibly by Robert Adam, for Judge George Perrott, Baron of the Exchequer, who sat in courts of equity in the 18th century. The frontage, a gorgeously-ostentatious Georgian masterpiece was fortunately salvageable when the structure was gutted by a fire in January 1999. George Perrott was born into the Yorkshire branch of the Perrots of Pembrokeshire. He was educated at Westminster School, following which he was admitted as a student of the Inner Temple in November 1728. He was called to the bar four years later. Following his legal career in which he was made a king's counsel. In failing health he retired on a pension and acquired the manor of Fladbury, along with other estates in Worcestershire. This property was his retirement home. However, he did not live long in Pershore and passed away in 1780. His lasting legacy in the local region was acquring and improving the Lower Avon Navigation between Evesham and the River Severn. He invested a considerable sum of money on upgrading the locks and weirs, thus enabling the passage of large barges. This proved to be an economic boost to Pershore.
At the time of the photograph above, Perrott House was occupied by William Pearce, the Birmingham stained-glass manufacturer. His firm were responsible for the glass in many churches, public buildings, along with theatres and cinemas throughout the land. He lived here in semi-retirement before moving to College Yard at Worcester where he died, aged 78, in March 1926. He lived in Pershore for 25 years and figured prominently in public work during those years, fulfilling numerous offices with ability and zeal. He had long been a local Justice of the Peace. and did service for many years as a Guardian of the Poor and on the Pershore Rural District Council. He was always a great helper in Church work. William Pearce sold Perrott House to Dr. Harold Gordon Browning
This inter-war photograph shows the Old Corner Shop at the junction of Broad Street and High Street. Indeed, the address of the building as a whole is No.2 High Street and No.35 Broad Street. The brick structure, rendered with lined stucco, dates from the early 19th century. Here the corner was occupied by Prothero & Co. A trade directory published in 1908 lists the firm as The Hygenic Bakery, grocers, bakers and confectioners. Hailing from Aberabon in Glamorgan, brothers Peter and George Prothero took over the business in 1901. The former, along with his wife Emily, continued the business until Peter Jones Prothero died in 1921. His son, John Collett Prothero, who had served in Russia at the end of World War One, succeeded to the business.
Just along from the Old Corner Shop is a large building that became the Number 8 Arts Centre in recent times. I think the building may have served as the post-office for a period. However, here in the late 1920s the building was occupied by the ironmonger Frederick Greenhous. He diversified into retailing bicycles so I was excited to see signs for Whitworth and Lee Enfield cycles in his window display. Frederic Greenhous had been in business as ironmonger at Pershore for upwards of 50 years before he retired. Consequently, he became an esteemed tradesman of the town. Following his death in 1935, it was stated in the local press that he was "a man of business abilities and unquestioned integrity, and held in the highest regard by all who knew him, while to many old townspeople his death comes as a personal bereavement."
A very similar view to that of the last photograph, except we have fast-forwarded to the post-war years. The corner premises here is now occupied by Burton's the Family Grocers. The last trade directory to list Prothero & Co. on the corner was published in 1928. Four years later the premises were listed as Burton & Co. John Sandford was the manager of the shop during World War 2. He landed in hot water when P.C. Wheildon found two electric lights switched on when the shop was closed. The manager was brought up at the Pershore Petty Sessions summoned for a shop lighting offence for which he was fined. Mrs. Reynolds was a shop assistant in 1942 when Mr. A. L. Paddon was the manager. The shop had a licence to retail wines and spirits.
Winding the clock back to the late Victorian years, the corner building was domain of George and Elizabeth Vaughan. The retail outlets in modern Broad Street, behind the bus stop, was the bakery and grocery stores with the corner being the retail part of the business. Elizabeth was the daughter of John and Ann Falkner, a couple who once kept the New Inn. The couple would later move to Northfield where they worked for another grocery business.
This view of the High Street is looking northwards from a position close to where the 'new' post-office was rebuilt in the 1930s. The old worn steps beyond the lamp-post are still in situ. The gated structure to the right is now a pedestrian area leading to a large supermarket, a degradation of the former land use. This area is known as Chapman Court, named after William T. Chapman, former headmaster of Pershore Boys' School. Following his retirement he was elected on the Rural District Council. He had been for many years Chairman of Holy Cross Parish Council. It was in this role that he presided over meetings in which the plans for the King George V Playing Fields were formulated. A £350 loan was arranged with the Public Works Loans Board to match a grant from the King George's Fields Foundation. It was in this official role that he presented the grounds on river meadows to the townsfolk. A blue plaque includes part of the speech which implies that it was his gift whereas he was serving in an administrative role. His lines "I give this land for the Pershore men and boys to fish and play and for the women to sit and watch" smacks of the chauvinism prevalent in this period. After all, what would the headmaster of a boys' school know about the aspirations of young women?
The buildings immediately beyond Chapman Court have largely survived, though the carriage entrance seen above has been infilled. In recent years this space had been occupied by a calorific puddings and desserts emporium. Featuring a rear wing, the first building, No.39, dates from the late 18th century but has been modified over the years. At Nos. 41 and 43, the four-bay structure, also mid-late 18th century, has been reduced from four bays in order to create road access to the supermarket car park.
Almost certainly captured in 1904, this photograph shows the grocery shop of Harry Phillips. Born in Bristol in 1856, he was the nephew of George Phillips who traded as a grocer in the High Street from at least 1869. It was in that year that he married Lucy, daughter of Isaac Hillman, a mason living at Barton Terrace. Both men are listed separately in a trade directory published in 1900 so it would appear there were two separate shops. In the 1890s Harry Phillips lived at these corner premises with his elderly mother Elizabeth. In March 1899 the grocer married a woman more than half his age. He tied the knot with Mary Wycliffe Horton, daughter of the Birmingham printer James Horton, at St. Martin's Church in Digbeth. It would appear that they separated in the Edwardian period and were living in different locations by 1911. This state of affairs may have been the result of the business failing. In 1907 Harry Phillips told the official receiver that his bankruptcy had been caused by an illness in 1905 during which he was unable to work for nine months. He also cited competition, along with the expenses of removing from this corner shop. He had apparently started his business in 1890 with a capital of £100, which he had earned working for his uncle's grocery business. The purchase price of this corner shop, bundled with three adjacent cottages, was £550, most of which he raised on a mortgage. Due to poor trade, particularly after the opening of the International Stores on High Street, he moved his business to smaller premises in Broad Street. He attempted to trade through his financial difficulties but things caught up with him and started to unravel.
The corner premises are thought to date from the late 18th century. Brick rendered with lined stucco, the building has distinctive two round-arched boxed windows on the first floor High Street frontage. It is thought to have once been a saddler's shop. For many years in recent times, the ground floor has housed a bakery called Upper Crust.
In the above photograph a carriage entrance can be seen a little further along from the shop. A painted sign above the entrance shows that this was the workshops of the cabinet-maker and cooper Edwin Styles. The first floor fenestration certainly facilitated a good deal of daylight flooding into the building. In more recent times the former carriage entrance formed part of Baker's Arcade. Edwin had grown up on the High Street where his father, George Styles, worked as a master tailor. The family moved into Broad Street when the teenager was training as a joiner. In July 1866 he married Emma, daughter of the stone mason William Cullwick. The couple's son, Henry, would become a teacher.
This image shows the aftermath of a fire at the High Street premises of E. Wilks & Son, tailors and outfitters. It was at 2.45 a.m. on Friday August 14th, 1925, that Police-Constable Lowe, who was passing along the High Street at Pershore, noticed smoke coming from the lock-up shop of Messrs. E. Wilks. On investigation, he discovered the shop to be well on fire and immediately gave the alarm. Pershore fire brigade turned out and Evesham brigade arrived later, but the fire had gained in volume, and the premises were completely gutted. It was reported that nothing was saved from the building. Mr. C. Wilks, the proprietor, stated that when he left the shop at 10.15 the previous night everything was as usual. Luckily for him, the loss was covered by insurance. I note however that in the 1928 trade directory the business was located in Bridge Street. I suspect that the business E. Wilks & Son was Elizabeth Wilks, wife of John Richardson Wilks who had faced bankruptcy proceedings in 1909 when his fledgling business faltered soon after moving to Pershore. The man who locked up the shop on the night before the fire was probably Charles Wilks, son of John Richardson Wilks and his wife Elizabeth. J. R. Wilks continued to trade from Abbey Place as a master tailor and habit-maker. He died suddenly in February 1939, aged 77. The Tewkesbury Register recorded that "he was a well-known local figure, being satiated with several organisations in the town. It was on a Friday evening when he entered the shop of Mr. H. C. Swann, chemist, in High-street, and appeared to be unwell. Mr. Swann helped him home and called a doctor. The tailor died shortly afterwards. His father, James Wilks. was a tailor and woollen trader in Foregate Street at Worcester during the Victorian era. John Richardson Wilks had carried on his tailoring business in Pershore for about 35 years. He was keenly interested in all local activities, and, in his more active days, was an enthusiastic sportsman. He was a member of Holy Cross Parish Council for some time, a member of the old Pershore Horticultural Society, and a former secretary of Pershore Oddfellows, whose lodge he assisted to found. He was also a member of the Pershore Chamber of Commerce, and a one-time secretary of the Abbey Bowling Club."
This photograph of Bridge Street was captured in front of No.29, an attractive early 19th century building with a frontage of red and yellow brick in Flemish bond. Along the pavement a woman in an invalid carriage is in front of the former Liquor Vaults, premises that evolved into the Brandy Cask. The horse and cart is parked outside the Star Inn. Looking across the road, some of the buildings have been lowered and projecting windows removed. A prominent sign can be seen for the premises of Joseph Glover, photographer, musical instrument, fancy and general goods dealer. He produced postcards and had a photographic studio where he would offer cabinet card services. His premises were flanked by butcher's shops, William Kings on one side, and Thomas Elkerton on the other.
This excellent view of properties on Bridge Street shows Fern House to the left, a late 18th century house with later alterations, which included the addition of a ground floor window between the canted bay window and front entrance. The latter features fluted pilasters supporting entablature with an enriched open pediment. There is a pub interest with this property because in the 1930s it was home to Eliza Salisbury Falkner. She died here in her 85th year in June 1936. She belonged to one of the Pershore's oldest families. She was one of the 22 children of Edward Barker who was a veterinary surgeon, of Pershore, and once licensee of the Bell Hotel in High Street. Eliza Falkner was the widow of the Charles Falkner, the owner and occupier of the New Inn, a tavern that he purchased from his father, Benjamin John Falkner. Charles Falkner was also an old Pershore market gardener, and a noted grower of asparagus.
The retired clergyman, Arthur Westcott, was probably the next occupant of Fern House, along with his wife Eleanor and their children, including Cuthbert, a chaplain to the Royal Air Force who had served as curate of Pershore Abbey and in charge of Wick parish. Arthur Westcott was the son of Brooke Foss Westcott, the Bishop of Durham in the late Victorian period.
A young occupant of Fern House was involved in an extraordinary act of bravery and heroism in June 1941. The Evesham Standard reported : "A plucky rescue to save the life of John Mitchell, a ten-years#old evacuee, occurred near the Mill Weir, Pershore, on Sunday afternoon, not many yards from the spot where a young aircraftman lost his life the following day whilst bathing in the Avon. The rescuer was Ronald Rowbottom. a twelve-years-old boy, of Fern House, 42, Bridge Street. Pershore. In an interview, Ronald, who is a pupil at the Harbourne Collegiate School Manor House, Pershore, said: "I was on the river bank by the Falls, with my sister and guardian. about to dress after having bathed, when I saw John Mitchell, who was playing on a log in the river, suddenly slip sideways into the water. He was, at first, able to recover himself, and scrambled back on to the log, but as the log was by now nearing the Falls and being twisted round and round in an undercurrent, he was quickly thrown into the river again. I knew that he was well out of his depth here, and in great danger, so I entered the water again and swam out to him. He was now only just clinging to the log. I wondered how I could bring him back and decided the only way was for me to tow the log to which I told him to hold fast. This I did and managed to bring him safely in."
Next to Fern House there remains a passage leading to several buildings to the rear. On the opposite side of this are are a couple of shops in the 21st century. These once formed one business, as seen above, when the premises were operated by Crooke Brothers, trading as grocers. There is, as they say, a lot to unpack with this photograph. Firstly, I am intrigued about the sight of two black children in Pershore during this period. I would love to know who, what, where? The well-dressed boy is pushing an small carriage in which a young girl is being transported. If anybody out there knows anything about this aspect of the photograph please get in touch.
The grocery shop was run by members of the Crooke family, particularly Frederick Crooke. His older brother, Harry, was involved in the business at some point. He was a very well-known figure in Pershore. In April 1853 the Tewkesbury Register reported that "88-year-old Harry Crooke, of 123, High Street, who is seen daily cycling about the town, celebrated his golden wedding on Monday. Longevity seems to be an attribute of the Crooke family. The ages of Mr. Crooke and his two surviving brothers total 251 years - John, of Birmingham, being 85 and Frederick, of Bridge Street, 78. Harry Crooke began work at 13 and spent 72 years in the grocery trade, being last employed by Messrs. G. Phillips and Sons. He can still tackle a job with the enthusiasm of a man 20 years his junior. He is a grandson of Thomas Crooke. who found the forerunner of the Pershore Egg Plum in Tyddesley Wood, and lived to be 87."
Frederick Crooke, resident at this address in Bridge Street, was probably even more well-known in the locality. He collapsed and died when returning from a visit to the Working Men's Club one night in the autumn of 1960. The Tewkesbury Register printed : "Pershore is the poorer for losing one of its best-known personalities, Mr. Crooke was born and lived in Pershore all his life. He was 86 and was the best-known of three brothers who carried on a grocery business in Broad Street. The family business was hard-hit by the post-1914 war depression and the premises became the branch office of Berrow's Worcester Journal, with Fred as a member of the "Journal" staff. He was able to draw on a wide fund of local knowledge, but by temperament he was not fitted to work as a staff man and the appointment terminated. Throughout his long and remarkably active life he enjoyed a wide variety of interests. As a keen hockey player until middle-age, he never lost interest in the game, and until recent years was a familiar figure at "The Bottoms" when a game was in progress. Snooker was another pastime to which he was devoted and at his best was generally considered to be the town's finest player. He sang in the Abbey choir and in a vocal quartet known as "The Avon Glee Singers," which had the distinction of winning the premier award at Madresfield for three years running, an achievement of which he was justly proud."
A labourer named Walter Lee had not banked on the fitness of Frederick Crooke when he broke into the shop in the middle of the night in June 1915. The grocer was woken by the sound of bumping noises downstairs. When he descended the stairs he found Walter Lee behind the counter with the till open and removing the coins. Meanwhile Frederick's wife brought down his clothes, and while he started dressing, Walter Lee bolted through the shop and made a dash for it. He got as far as the mill before he ran out of puff and Frederick Crooke had caught up with him. Collaring him, he took him to the police station where the labourer was charged and committed to the Quarter Sessions for trial.
The right-hand side of the premises was later used as a branch office for the British Union of Fascists. The local representative was a young man named Cyril Pertwee, supposedly a relative of Jon Pertwee, the actor. He spoke at an open-air meeting in Broad Street in June 1935. John Dowty, a native of of the town, addressed his first meeting as the prospective candidate for the British Union of Fascists, at Pershore. It is said that William Joyce, the man better known as "Lord Haw Haw" used the office here in Bridge Street when living in Wick in the late 1930s.
Next door at Nos.36-8 was the retail premises of brother and sister Henry and Fanny Summerton, both of whom worked as tailors. This photograph dates from around 1912, the year in which Henry Summerton died. However, Fanny continued to trade at this address and lived here until 1939. At the turn of the 20th century trade was seemingly busy as nephews, Thomas and William, were also working as tailors in these premises. The Summerton family had moved to from Yarron Cross at Astley to Pershore during the 1870s and established a home in Mason's Ryde. Henry and Fanny occupied this property by 1891, a time when the grocery shop next door was run by Thomas and Ann Winter. James Long worked for four years as an apprentice to Thomas Winter. His wages were 2s. 6d. a week for the first year, and 7s. 6d. a week the last year. He then went to London to Messrs. Williams and Co., grocers, of Buckingham Palace Road. After three years, he returned to Thomas Winter's shop for another two years. In 1889 he took over the business of the late Mr. George Mumford, of Kemerton, and two years later had the grocer's shop built at the premises where he continued in business until 1942, racking up 50 years in the grocery trade.
Between No.36 and No.34 is a very old passage which led to York Cottages. Here, a sign above the entry advertises the services of the plumber and house decorator, William Taylor, who hailed from Malvern. He lived here with his wife Harriet, along with grandson Frederick Checketts, who worked as a solicitor's clerk. William Taylor had taken over the business of James Goodall, the latter's name being continued on the sign so I assume he had a good reputation in the trade. I mean, you don't want any old Herbert doing your plumbing! There was a bizarre incident here in February 1884 when William Taylor sent his boots across the street to the Star Inn, to be cleaned by the boy, and in a few minutes was informed by him that they could not be found anywhere. William Taylor saw John Turner, a man on the tramp, at the window of the inn kitchen, and, suspecting him, gave information to the police. Nowadays, the police wouldn't respond to anybody claiming their car had been stolen, but this was the Victorian age when law enforcement officers were more diligent. P.C. Ellison went at pace along the Evesham Road, and nabbed John Turner, finding the boots in a leather bag. He was dragged back to the police station and charged. When he appeared at the Petty Sessions he was sentenced to 21 days' hard labour. We need a bit more of that nowadays'
Today there is a little more vegetation meaning that some of the arches of the medieval bridge are not easy to see during the summer months. There is a picnic area close to the position taken up by the Edwardian photographer to capture this view. The bridge was constructed in the 15th century by monks from Pershore Abbey. Although remodelled during the 17th and 18th centuries, parts of the bridge are thought to date back to 1413. During the English Civil war a battle was fought on this bridge. The old structure was deemed too narrow for modern traffic and was replaced by a concrete structure in 1926. It remains as a crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. There has seemingly always been conflict between foot traffic and two-wheelers, as highlighted in an incident at the start of World War 2. In October 1939 Charles Morgan, of Cradley in the Black Country, employed in the hopfields at Hopney, was charged with assaulting Ernest James Roberts, a labourer of Upper End, Wick. Roberts, who appeared in court with the mark of a deep cut beneath his left eye, told the magistrates that he was going home about 10.30 on September 30th, when pushing his cycle. He stopped on the Old Bridge. Two men and a woman were passing by in the same direction and as the night was dark. witness said to them. "It's quite all right, pass on, I'm a native." One of the men, after making a remark, struck witness four quick violent blows in the face knocking him unconscious for ten minutes. When he came to himself, he could not find his cycle and had to walk home, after he had reported the matter to the police. The machine had been thrown over the parapet of the bridge into the river. Although he identified Morgan as the man who struck him, a contradiction in some evidence resulted in the case being unproved. But that is no way to treat a bicycle!
A view of Pershore Bridge during a flood. Though the fields are submerged, the water may be receding, allowing some hardy souls to make the journey across the old structure. Others have turned up to look at the spectacle. Extreme weather conditions was not confined to the winter months. At the end of August 1912 it was reported that Pershore and the neighbouring district was comparable to a seaside. The Bromsgrove & Droitwich Messenger stated: "Because of the increased rise of the Avon the meadows for miles along the river were completely submerged. On Monday August 26th the rain kept on continuously for 19 hours. The road over Pershore Bridge was completely submerged, and foot traffic was impossible. The water was up to the bed of cars which ventured, and there was a swift current, which made people cautious of going over. Such a flood in August has not been witnessed for many years, and there is every reason to fear that the coming winter will see a great deal of privation in the district because of the impossibility of people being able to earn money at outdoor work this summer."
This photograph shows pupils of Pershore Girls' School with the Attendance Record Shield. In a bid to improve school attendance, the Worcester Church Education Society launched this competition in 1902 when up to 100 school departments had notified their intention of competing for the shields. Wrestling the shield from Great Malvern who had won in 1904, Pershore Girls' School were winners in 1905 and 1906 with attendance scores of over 97 per cent.pershore-bridge-street-coronation-procession pershore-bridge-street-toll-house pershore-newlands pershore-ship-inn pershore-swan-inn pershore-three-tuns-hotel-portico pershore-angel-inn-1947
"The Art Journal contains the following : "When we came in peace to Pershore Bridge on a bright sutumn day, the sun
streamed in shafts of light through the arches, and over the still meadows, and the osier beds turning golden, the yellow elms on the grass slopes of Wyke Park,
and turned the wet road, climbing the hill into a band of silver. Above the grand pollard willows with dark stems, and the thorn tree, crimson with berries and
hung with mistletoe, the sunny tower of the Abbey church rose over the purple and red house roofs, among treetops full of blue shadows, while the great black mill
wheel splashed ceaselessly. Pershorians may well be proud of their sunny little town of good red-brick houses, built mostly in the regular Worcestershire
fashion of 150 years ago - white facings, pleasaut bow windows, and doors with that ugly but eminently respectable broken pediment above them, against which
Mr. Ruskin inveighs so bitterly. It is not an imaginative style of architecture. But it does look so well-to-do. It is suggestive of a tidy balance at
the Worcester Bank; of solid silver teapots; perhaps a brooch of family diamonds, small and a trifle grimy, set in old silver, and worn only at "high
teas" when the neighbours come in and gossip flows like a river. One fancies there are Chippendale chairs, now relegated to the kitchen, and an Adam's
sofa with curled ends and painted feet in the best bedroom. Of course the parlour was done up when the present owners married, with rosewood abominations and
flowery carpets. But even these atrocities cannot rob the Worcestershire house of its look of sterling worth. Pershore does look thoroughly worthy. And for
romance you have but to turn to the bridge on the Avon, or to the Abbey church, and you have your fill. Of the famous and powerful Abbey, hardly second to those
of Evesham and Tewkesbury, nothing - absolutely nothing remains, save the choir great square tower of its vast church. The choir, which is now used as the
parish church, is an exquisite specimen of Early English, richly clustered columns, an exceedingly lofty triforium arcade arranged in groups lid three lancet
arches, and an extremely beautiful roof, the ribs of the simple vaulting being very deeply moulded, and the bosses unusually rich in design. The yellow elm shone
like gold against the wall of the Norman transept, and cast clear purple shadows the yellow sandstone of which the church is built; while above them the four
golden vanes of the massive tower glittered against the tender blue sky. It was hard to believe that the outer walls of the church bore marks still of Cavalier
and Roundhead skirmishes; that Dudda, the Earl of Mercia who founded Tewkesbury in 715, and Odda, his great descendant, the Earl of Mercia in Edward the
Confessor's day, should both been buried at Pershore in preference to their magnificent Abbey of Tewkesbury. Now the only worshipper was an old man, in a
plaited white smock, who knelt in front of the chancel, the clear autumn sunshine streaming in through the south window on his snowy head. And falling leaves
whirled past us through the open door, taking sanctuary from their enemy, the coming frost. Odda and Dudda belong almost to the world of myth. Cavaliers and
Roundheads have but left a few bullet holes on the church walls to mark their transit across the stage. And what of the monks of Pershore Abbey? A country
fellow - a regular country loafer, to whom the hoisting of a white sketching umbrella meant unspeakable joy of a victim who could not escape, pointed out
a small doorway that must have led from the roof of the north transept, now destroyed, into the bell tower. "You see that hole like up there? Well, they
call that the monkeys' hole - because there was monkeys used to live there. I never see them myself; but there's plenty living now as can remember
when there was monkeys there." "But what did they live on?" inquired the listener. "They did used to put down food for them every night;
and they'd come out too through that hole and get nuts and things. But folks didn't like for 'em to be about the church, so they stopped up the hole."
By a reversal of the Darwinian theory, the Pershore monks have gone back to their hairy ancestors."
Weekly Independent [Bromsgrove] : December 11th 1886 Page 2
"At Pershore Petty Sessions yesterday Charles Augustus Wilson, hotel proprietor, of Rowansfield, Gloucester Road, Cheltenham,
was fined £1, including costs, for driving a motor-car without due care and attention at Pershore on May 5. He pleaded not guilty. Inspector Arey said
there was no allegation of speeding. The offence was that Wilson, who was proceeding homewards from out of High Street, took a wrong turning into Broad Street,
going round the nearside of the island, instead of the other side. In doing so he collided with a cyclist, whose arm was injured and his machine smashed.
Sidney Joseph Townsend, of Pershore, the cyclist, said the car was proceeding slowly round the corner. He told defendant at the time that it was not his
[defendant's] fault, which statement he repeated in a letter. He denied that he was travelling faster than the car. Wilson said he had driven nine
years and covered on average 25,000 miles annually, and had a clean licence. He was not well acquainted with the road, and did not notice the traffic sign.
Cheltenham regulations, he said, were different, and gave instances of places he knew with small islands where there were double lines of traffic. The Chairman
described the error as very slight."
"Very Slight Error"
Gloucestershire Echo : May 30th 1934 Page 3