Astley, a parish in Worcestershire, on the river Severn, S miles SW by S of Stourport, which is the post town. Acreage, 3031; population, 828. A Benedictine priory, subordinate to the abbey of St Taurinus in France, was founded here in the time of Henry I. by Ralph de Todeni; suffered frequent seizure by the Crown during the wars with France; passed, in the time of Richard II. to John Beauchamp, and in that of Edward IV. to the college of Westbury, and was given by Henry VII. to Sir Ralph Sadleir, the compiler of the state papers. A well, known as the Prior's well, near the churchyard, is the only relic. Woodhampton and Oakhampton are-the chief residences. A hermitage was cut out of the solid. rock at Astley Cliff, near Eedstone ferry; it was, in pre-Eeformation days, a place of great resort for devotees, and is assigned by tradition as a residence of Layamon, the chronicler and poet; later, it was turned into an alehouse, and is now used for farm purposes. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Worcester; value, £530. The church stands, on an eminence, and is a fine specimen of Early Norman architecture; it contains a Norman font, some good altar-tombs to the Blount family, and a replica by Bacon of his memorial to Mrs Mason in Bristol Cathedral. In the churchyard is a monument to Miss Frances Eidley Havergal, whose father was rector of this parish.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Astley St. Peter|
|Poor Law union||Martley|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The parish register dates from the year 1539.
Church of England
St. Luke's Mission Church, Astley Cross
St. Luke's Mission church, at Astley Cross, erected in 1900, at a cost of £400, is an iron building, and will seat 160 persons.
St. Peter (parish church)
The Church of St. Peter, which stands on a hill, in the midst of beautiful scenery, is a very fine and ancient building of stone, in the Early Norman style, belonged to the Priory of Astley, appropriated to the monastery of Evereux in Normandy, and consisting of chancel and nave and a lofty embattled western tower, with pinnacles, containing a clock and 6 bells: in the north chancel aisle are two tombs with effigies, and a shield of arms, and inscriptions to Walter Blount esq. (1561) and Isabel his wife (1562); in the niches round the tombs are figures of their children, Richard, Francis, Isabel Ann, Elizabeth, Joyce and Margaret; the figure of Elizabeth being at the head and of Margaret at the foot: another monument, with effigies of a knight in armour and his lady, executed, according to the inscription, by John Gildon, of Hereford, represents Robert Blount esq. (1675), and Ann his wife, then living; on the right side of this tomb are white and red roses, on the left are the arms of Acton between the figures of Thomas and Walter Blount: the chancel arch, which is very plain and massive, is considered an unusually fine specimen of Early Norman, and was erected about 1102; the south doorway is coeval with it: there is a marble monument in the churchyard to Miss Frances Ridley Havergal, youngest daughter of Rev. W. H. Havergal, some time rector or this parish, who was born at Astley rectory, and was buried here 3rd June, 1879: the nave, chancel, north aisle and chantry were restored in 1903, at a cost of £2,350: the restoration of the tower and other work was completed in 1907 at a further cost of £1,300: there are 265 sittings.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Astley from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Astley (St. Peter))
Land and Property
The full transcript of the Worcestershire section of the Return of Owners of Land, 1873.
Online maps of Astley are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Worcestershire papers online:
The Visitation of Worcestershire 1569 is available on the Heraldry page.