The Church of St. Mary, the parish church of Elmley Castle.
The Church of St. Mary, the parish church of Elmley Castle.

If the walls could speak, what stories would they tell?


Just look at this building. Look at its crenelations, its sculptures and its herringbone masonry in the chancel walls The building is telling us so much about itself.  It is telling us of its longevity, its significance and something about the people who have worshipped within its walls over the centuries. The story of the place called Elmley Castle, oozes from its very walls.

Discoveries to date.

The Elmley Castle Timeline


King Offa gave land in the Elmley area to the Bishop of Worcester. The Bishops of Worcester were the overlords of Elmley until the  mid 15th century.





After the Norman Conquest Robert Despencer, with the authority of the king, seized the Bishop's land in Elmley.

Despenser built a castle at Elmley and after the siege of Worcester when the castle there fell into decay this was, for a while, the chief seat of the Beauchamps.

When Robert Despencer died his land and fortune went to his brother's family.  

Robert Despencer's brother was Urse d'Abbitot, the Sheriff of Worcester. He accumulated land all over Worcestershire.  His daughter Emmeline  was heiress to his fortune and Despencer's fortune. Emmeline married Sir Walter de Beauchamp.

The church probably dates from the 11th century. The chancel has walls constructed in stone built in a herringbone pattern a technique common in the 11th century to strengthen the structure when the stone used was rough hewn and of irregular size. 


Sir Walter de Beauchamp was succeeded by his son William.  In the Civil War William took the side of the Empress Maud and lost land.

In 1235 the castle was put into the custody of the de Lacy and the de Mortimer families.

All was restored when Stephen took the throne.


Sir William de Beauchamp, Lord of Elmley died in Normandy leaving two you sons, William and Walter. They became wards of the King.


William & Walter Beauchamp  in the custody of Sir William de Braose, Lord of Bramber. by 1208 de Broase fell out with the king and was disgraced and the people of the Beauchamp estate had to contribute 2000 marks to have custody of their young heir William.  William died in 1210.  His brother Walter succeeded him



Walter Beauchamp, a minor, inherited the Beauchamp Honour.  He became a ward of Sir Roger Mortimer who paid 3,000marks to the King to have custody of the boy and the Beauchamp lands.  He married his daughter to William they had a son William. Walter died in 1236


The King gave the Beauchamps a charter that enabled them to hold a weekly market in Elmley.  The market was held on Wednesdays.  He also included in the charter the right to hold a 3 day summer fair around the time of Feast of St. Leonard.

Beauchamp married Isobel, the daughter of William Maudit.  She was the sister and heir of William Maudit the Earl of Warwick, their son sir William de Bauchamp inherited the Earldom of Warwick.

13th C

There were chafes to the church in the 13th century



The Beauchamps were in litigation with the bishop of Worcester over the assize of bread and ale. This was finally settled in 1279 - in favour of the bishops.


It is recorded that there were 2 mills in Elmley  - 1 was a water mill and the other a windmill. The castle was in a bad state of repair.




Guy Beauchamp did homage for his father's land. He built Guy's tower at Warwick Castle and in 1308 he founded a chantry in the castle at Elmley.  8 chaplains and 4 clerks were funded by £20 from the Beauchamp manor in Childswickham. This proved expensive and the number of chaplains was reduce to 7 and just 2 clerks.

Guy died in 1315, he was succeeded by his son Thomas aged 2.  The castle was granted to Hugh le Despencer


It is recorded that there were fisheries between the banks of Nassebrook and Burne


There was an order to fortify the castle.



The church was enlarged.


The Estates were granted to Thomas Lord le Despencer and he was created Duke of Gloucester, the manor of Elmley was conferred on him in that name.

There is a late 14th century cross in the parish.












Thomas, Earl of Warwick was reinstated on the accession of Henry iv.  When he died the manor held the manor.  Her son Richard succeeded.

The north aisle was built in the church.

Castle repairs

The manor was settled on Thomas' son and his 2nd wife Isobel le Despenser, Countess of Worcester.

Castle repairs

Police cottage built

Henry succeeded and in 1444 he was created premier Earl of England. He was made a Duke but died a year later. The Honours but not the title went to his daughter Ann who was just 3. She died in 1448.









After Ann's death the manor of Elmley passed to her aunt Ann who was wife of Richard Nevill the Earl of Salisbury. They had a son Edward.

The castle was in the hands of the king because of the minority of Edward Warwick.  William Adams was keeper and Thomas Brigge Steward.

1480 and 1492 there were castle repairs.

In 1488 the constable of the castle was Sir John Savage.


The manor and estates were conveyed to Henry VIII.

1540 -


Edmund Bonner, who was born in Elmley Castle, was Bishop of London.


Queen Elizabeth1 on her Royal Progress, spent the night with William Savage.