THE PARISHES OF PERSHORE

The parish churches of Pershore
Pershore Abbey and St Andrews Church.

Historically their have been two parishes and two parish churches in Pershore. Their story is integral to the history of Pershore.

 

Follow this story as we add to the Pershore time line below. Please contact us if you have something to add to the timeline or if you spot any inaccuracies, thank you.

Discoveries to date.

THE PERSHORE TIMELINE

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 to sustain the Christian community. in Worcester

681

IN PERSHORE

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.


8C &

9C


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!


972

THE REGULARIS CONCORDIA

The monastery at Pershore, like other monasteries in the 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


Late 10C








Early

11C

JEALOUSY, UNREST & VIKING INCURSIONS

This was a period of considerable unrest. Many powerful secular thegns were jealous of the monasteries and their privileges.  The monasteries, including Pershore found it difficult to hold onto their estates, especially those lands at a distance from the monastery where they had let out their land 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.


1003

Nonetheless the abbey in Pershore with its local demense land continues to thrive.

MEANWHILE
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 became the last King of the House of Wessex.


1042-1066

1042. When his brother died Edward was crowned King of England. 

ENTER KING EDWARD.

The Confessor.

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.


1065

PERSHORE ABBEY

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, that would be very expensive  for a monastery. It wouldn't be just the care of the building, the monks would have to carry the cost of all the religious ceremonies and forever!  The  King rightly set about endowing his monastery with land to help to finance all this, it was just the way he did it. When the Earl of Mercia died much of his land reverted to the King ... and he gave it to the monastery at Westminster. The problem was that much of this land was the land that had once been given to Pershore Abbey!  The Abbot of Pershore was upset - understandably -  he had probably thought the king would return the Pershore lands to Pershore Abbey but that was not to be and ever after the Abbot of Westminster employed a Steward of the Western Parts to collect the taxes and rents owed to him from his estates in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. 



1065

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 defined by Broad Street.  

The southern part, including Bridge Street was granted to Westminster and much of the northern part, including High Street remained with Pershore Abbey.

The Abbot of Westminster built a church for the tenants of his Pershore lands.




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.


1086

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.

Artist's impression of the Norman monastery
Artist's impression of the Norman monastery

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 was strategical placed on one to the main routes between London and Worcester and close to the river crossing point. 

1180s

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 property. 

NOTE Pershore Abbey's Anglo-Saxon records were destroyed in  one of the 13th century fires.

St Andrew's Church built for the tenants of Westminster Abbey
St Andrew's Church built for the tenants of Westminster Abbey

1200

King John confirmed the Charter of Henry II and Pershore is referred to as a vill for the first time


1223

FIRE! The Abbey and a large part of the town are destroyed in a fire.


1224

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

Medieval Pershore

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 where 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.  

Pershore churches
The medieval abbey an artist's impression.

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.

1539

THE  DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERY


1540s

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.


Pershore churches
The ruined abbey church.

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.

16th C.

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. 


1640s

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.


17th C

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 at the rear of properties 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.



19thC

THE ARRIVAL OF THE RAILWAYS

The arrival of the railways signalled another change for Pershore - the end of its river and road transport but it retained its role as a local market town, primarily for local horticultural and agricultural produce, but these were more 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 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.  There was little expansion in the town.



1868

The Ecclesiastical Commissioners become Lords of the Manor of Binholme


20th C.

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.


1986

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.