Historically there have been two parishes and two parish churches in Pershore. Their stories are integral to the history of Pershore.
Follow this story as we add to the Pershore time line below. Contact us if you have something to add to the timeline or if you spot any inaccuracies, thank you.
Discoveries to date.
Pershore has a settlement history stretching back over 2000 years. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of Roman occupation. Scroll down to discover the story of this place. We take up the story in the year 681 at the start of the Christian era.
681 The Christian Diocese of the Hwicce people was established with a Cathedral in Worcester. The Bishop received vast estates of land, they sustained the Christian community. in Worcester
King Ethelred gave 300 cassata of land to his nephew, the thegne Oswald to found a monastery in the area we now know as Pershore.
A MONASTERY IN PERSHORE
The monastery would have been very different from the monasteries we know of today.
Pershore becomes a Christian missionary centre with priests and monks going out into the area round about converting the people to Christianity.
This was a period when the monasteries and churches received great gifts, often of land from Kings and wealthy people. Pershore became rich and powerful but disaster was never far away!
THE REGULARIS CONCORDIA
The monastery at Pershore, like other monasteries in this area, was refounded as a Benedictine monastery.
THE BENEDICTINE ABBEY OF PERSHORE
King Edgar confirmed the endowment of land granted to it by King Coenwulf. The monastery in Pershore was again rich and powerful it received rents and tributes from tenants on its vast estates. Local people and lay brothers worked on the demense lands (the home farm) to provide food for the monastic community.
A small secular community grew up outside the Abbey gate in the Newlands/Head Street area of Pershore. Some people worked for the abbey, others were skilled in useful crafts and trades, all worked on their own small plots of land and probably on the monks 'Home Farm.
A Saxon market place is thought to be defined by the area bounded by today's Church Row, Lower Priest Lane and Little Priest Lane. A rural settlement developed to the east and north the of the market.
PERSHORE BECOMES THE ADMINISTRATIVE CENTRE OF THE VAST TRIPLE HUNDRED OF PERSHORE
JEALOUSY, UNREST & VIKING INCURSIONS
This was a period of considerable unrest. Many powerful secular thegns were jealous of the monasteries and their privileges. Many monasteries, including Pershore, found it difficult to keep control and hold on to their estates, especially if the land was distant from the monastery and rented out to tenants.
The Danes invaded again. Amid the turbulence and unrest the monks of Pershore lost much of their land. No doubt they hoped that one day they would get it back again!
Pershore Abbey looses control of many of its estates.
Nonetheless the abbey in Pershore with its local demense land continued to thrive.
Edward, son of Ethelred the unready and Emma of Normandy was born in Islip, Oxfordshire but he spent most of his childhood in Normandy. They say that he did not have a very happy childhood and because he was very religious he was given the nickname “the Confessor.”
Edward was the last King of the House of Wessex.
1042. When his brother died Edward was crowned King of England.
ENTER KING EDWARD.
In 1045 Edward married Edith of Wessex, she was the most important noblewoman in England but they had no children because Edward had taken a vow of celibacy.
In court Edward included a number of Norman supporters, - many were given powerful positions in the borderlands as part of the defence against the Welsh.
There were serious problems between Edward and the Saxon Earls causing Edward to retreat and put all his energy into the development of Westminster Abbey which was to be his mausoleum.
In Saxon times the king owned all the land, he would bestow it on his loyal followers in return for their loyalty and service. When a follower died the land would often revert to the King.
In 1065 the Earl of Mercia died and his lands reverted to the King. This land included land seized from Pershore Abbey. When this happened the Abbot of Pershore was probably hopeful that the abbey’s estates would be returned to Pershore but this was not to be. Pershore had, finally, to come to terms with the fact that it had lost two thirds of its land (and wealth) This included half of its land in Pershore itself!
ENTER THE ABBOTS OF WESTMINSTER ABBEY
To maintain a mausoleum fit for a King, would be very expensive for a monastic community. It needed enough income to cover the cost of caring for the building and the cost of all the religious ceremonies - forever! The King rightly set about endowing his monastery with land to help to finance all this, the problem came with the way he did it. When in 1065, the Earl of Mercia died much his land went back to the King Edward who then gave it to the monastery at Westminster. The problem was that most of this land had been seised by the Earl of Mercia from the Monastery in Pershore - understandably the abbot was upset. Ever after the Abbot of Westminster employed a 'Steward of the Western Parts' to collect the taxes and rents owed to him from his huge estates in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.
The Abbot of Pershore refused the tenants of Westminster entry to the Abbey church where they had previously been welcome. He insisted they needed a church of their own!
The land area of the town was divided between the two abbeys along a line now
Much of the northern part, including High Street remained with Pershore Abbey.
The Abbot of Westminster built St Andrew's Church for the tenants of his Pershore lands.
between the two abbeys along a line
defined by Broad Street.
The southern part, including Bridge Street was granted to Westminster
The Abbot of Westminster was given a Charter that enabled him to develop a borough with all the benefits that would bring him.
The Abbot of Westminster was Lord of the Manor of many of the estates that Pershore Abbey once owned. The administrative headquarters of the Manor of Binholme was sited in Pershore, roughly on the site of the old Cottage Hospital.
In the Domesday Survey there is nothing to show that the in Pershore, Pershore Abbey had anything other than an ordinary manor with dependent berewicks (outlying home farms including Wadborough, Broughton, Chivington, Walcot )
The Domesday Survey recorded that the Abbot of Westminster had a flourishing borough with 28 burgess plots rendering 30s and tolls amounting to 12s. It included Bridge Street which was already developed as a planned series of burgage plots along a pre-existing route-way leading to a river bridge.
The Domesday Survey indicates a town of about 500 people.
114 farmers and burgesses with their families and dependants and
included the monks and their servants.
Pershore was a well established monastic centre and an embryo market town concerned with trade. It was still described as a vill but archeological evidence suggests that by 1086 there was probably occupation along the High Street and by the 12th century there was probably a shared market along the line dividing the two estates within the area now defined by Broad Street.
Pershore is strategical placed on one to the main routes between London and Worcester and close to the river crossing point.
The first written evidence that the Abbot of Pershore had privileges pertaining to a borough came in the 1180s when Henry II freed the monks of Pershore from all tolls and exactions on
their lands in the county but later abbots claimed a prescriptive market of old and so presumably had enjoyed these rights before the division of the monastic
NOTE Pershore Abbey's Anglo-Saxon records were destroyed in one of the 13th century fires.
King John confirmed the Charter of Henry II and Pershore is referred to as a vill for the first time
FIRE! The Abbey and a large part of the town are destroyed in a fire.
Henry III gave the town a charter to hold a fair on the Feast of St Eadburga.
1227 A dispute between the two abbots was heard before the Prior of Coventry. It was resolved that:
Each abbey had the assize of bread and ale for its own tenants.
Each had its own pillory and ducking stool.
Pershore Abbey owned the Fair.
The abbots held the market in common, each had fines from tenants and a share of fines from strangers. A thief taken in the market was to remain in the custody of the abbot who's stalls he was found in and to be judged in his court unless the bailiff and men of the other abbot wishes to interfere when to be judged by the bailiffs and men of both abbots.
Any new works to be done in the market so be at joint cost and profits divided between them
Traffic travelling the main Worcester to London route would have passed along High Street and Bridge Street and over the river crossing. High Street and Bridge Street were both flanked by burgage plots on both sides of the street. Most would have been timber framed with thatched roofs and with well defined plots containing workshops and storage facilities at the rear. There would have been shops, inns, houses, workshops and businesses, many with thatched roofs, all tightly packed along the main thoroughfare.
Worker's cottages and workshops would have lined Newlands, Priest Lane, Church Row, Church Street and Head Street. Many would have worked for, and provided services to, the abbey. Records speak of a range of trades and industries including butchers, bakers, brewers, tailors, shoemakers, carpenters candlemakers, blacksmiths, wool staplers craters, inn-keepers and a tannery.
Numerous inns provided for the needs of the people who passed through the town and the many more who who visited the town. They came for the markets, and fairs and for the Manor and Hundred courts and to pay their rents! They also came to church for the services and festivals of the medieval church. The two abbeys owned the land and they administered it from their manorial centres.
Two major fires destroyed much of the town in the 13th century. The reduced plot sizes on the west side of Bridge Street and the laying out of Broad Street in its present form are believed to date from the subsequent re-planning of these areas following the fires.
This artist's impression of the medieval Pershore Abbey gives some idea of the grandeur and sheer scale of the medieval building. The nave, to the right of the tower, was the part of the abbey church that was designated the 'parish church.' It was the Mother Church for everyone who lived in the parish, there they celebrated the major Christian festivals and attended Mass. The main altar was dedicated to 'The Holy Cross.'
Records indicate the medieval market town had reached its peak of prosperity by the 13th century and was in decline in the 14th and 15th century but the towns most turbulent period came in the 16th and 17th centuries.
THE DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERY
When the monastery was dissolved most of the abbey precinct became a private house and grounds.
The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey continued to hold land in Pershore and the surrounding area.
By 1541 The Benedictine monks who had lived and worked in the buildings attached to the abbey
church in Pershore for 500 years had gone and so had their buildings.
Alms were no longer distributed to the poor. There was no scriptorium and no school to teach boys to read and write, to sing, and copy those beautiful manuscripts.
On the monastic estate the fields were cultivated and goods sent to market but the profits went to new secular lords.
Pershore continued as a medium sized rural market town throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.
Mid 16th century records show a population of some 216
families. They included yeomen, husbandmen and labourers as well as millers, bakers, wool staplers, glove makers, tanners, butchers and shopkeepers.
THE CIVIL WAR Because of its strategic position at the river crossing point the town was caught up in the struggle between Charles 1 and Parliament. It was repeatedly plundered by both sides and left impoverished.
Pershore bridge was destroyed.
EXPANSION OF TRADE AND IMPROVEMENTS IN COMMUNICATION MEANT WEALTH
New turnpike roads resulted in an increase in haulage traffic and an increase in the number of passenger coaches. Pershore became a fashionable coaching town. Meanwhile investment in the River Avon to make it navigable also brought new wealth. Goods such as sugar, oil, wine, tobacco, iron and lead were transported up river from Bristol and corn, cheese and wool travelled downstream. The river became a primary route for the transfer of call, corn and grain.
Pershore had entered a new period of development and prosperity. The population increased from 1434 in 1756 to 1655 in 1777. Pershore people became less dependant on agriculture and their increased wealth enabled the timber fabric of the old town to be transformed into the brick buildings that can still to be seen today. New houses and cottages lined the old roads - High Street, Broad Street, Priest Lane and Church Row. In Bridge Street large fashionable houses with warehouses and storage barns behind them were built on the west side of the street. On the east side wharves, warehouses and storage barns backed onto the river behind the fashionable houses. Passenger and goods entrances were incorporated into the redevelopment of the street frontages. Several coaching inns lined the main thoroughfare with stables and coach houses to the rear.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE RAILWAYS
The arrival of the railways signalled another change for Pershore. It lost much of its river and road transporting business but retained its role as a local market town with markets primarily for local horticultural and agricultural produce. These were difficult times for Pershore. The new railways passed through many local villages but not through Pershore. A proliferation of local stations nearby meant that farmers and market gardeners were able to benefit from markets in the expanding industrial towns of the west midlands and beyond. In Pershore there was diversification into the manufacture of farm machinery, jam making, and cider making but there was little expansion in the town.
The Ecclesiastical Commissioners become Lords of the Manor of Binholme
There was limited development within the old footprint of the town during the 20th century most of the change has been on green field sites to the north and west of the town.
With the sale of the Croome Estate land more land became available for residential development. the expansion of the town included residential development up Allesborough Hill.
Pershore has continued to grow with development on previously green field sites.