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Bewdley, Worcestershire

Historical Description

Bewdley, a market-town, municipal borough, and parish in Worcestershire. The town stands on rising-ground on the right bank of the Severn, 3 miles WSW of Kidderminster. It has a station on the G.W.R. (137 miles from London); the Severn Valley and Tenbury and Bewdley branches form a junction, and there is a loop line to Kidderminster. It was originally an extra-parochial liberty, but was united in the time of Henry VI. to the parish of Ribbesford. By an order in Council of 1892 the two places again became separate ecclesiastical parishes, held together by one incumbent It lay anciently within the marches of Wales, but was annexed in the time of Henry VIII. to the county of Worcester. It belonged to the Mortimers, but became afterwards a royal domain. A palace was erected at Ticknell, immediately above the town, by Henry VII. for his son Arthur, who was married here by proxy, and the palace was occupied by Charles I., suffered much in the Civil War, and was subsequently demolished. The surrounding scenery is remarkably fine, and has been supposed by some to have given rise to the name Bewdley as a corruption of the French Beaulieu. An isolated mound of red sandstone, called the Devil's Spittle-fill or Spadeful, the subject of a curious legend, is in a hollow 1¼ mile from the town. The town has wide well-paved streets, and in general is well built. Wribbenhall, on the other bank of the Severn, is a suburb with some good streets, and is reached by a handsome stone bridge erected in 1797-1801 by Telford. Tho railway station is situated at Wribbenhall. The town-hall is a handsome stone edifice of 1808, and has a commodious marketplace attached. The Bewdley Institute contains a library and reading-rooms. The grammar school was founded by the charter of James I., and has a small endowment. The Church of St Anne, Bewdley, erected in 1748, is a spacious structure with an embattled tower. There are chapels for Baptists, Wesleyans, Unitarians, and a meeting-house for the Society of Friends. There are several charities for the use of the poor, the principal being the Hibbotts and Geldings, and the coal, blanket, and clothing fund charities. There are also several almshouses. The town has a head post office, a bank, and a police station. A weekly market is held on Saturday. Large employment formerly arose from the carrying trade on the Severn. Manufactures are carried on in horn combs, powder flasks, &c. There are also a large tannery and a brass foundry. John Tombes, the opponent of Baxter, and Richard Willis, an artisan's son who rose to be Bishop of Winchester, were natives.

The borough was constituted by Edward IV., and reconstituted by James I. The charter was surrendered to Charles II., and a fresh one granted by James II.; but in Queen Anne's reign the charter of James II. was annulled, and that of James I. confirmed. It now, as a municipal borough, includes most of the parish of Bibbesford. It is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. It formerly returned members to Parliament, but was disfranchised by the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885. It has a separate commission of the peace. Area of the municipal borough and civil parish, 2105 acres; population, 2876; of the ecclesiastical parish of St Anne, 974, and of Holy Trinity, 651. The living of St Anne, Bewdley, is a vicarage in the diocese of Hereford; net value, £350 with residence.

Bewdley Parliamentary Division of Worcestershire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 52,012. The division includes the following:—Malvern (except the parish of Little Malvern)—Leigh, Madresfield, Malvern (Great), Mathon, Newland, Powick (part, Woods-field); Hundred House—Abberley, Bayton, Clifton-on-Teme, Hillhampton, Mamble, Martley, Pensax, Bochford, Rock, Sapey Pitchard, Slielsley Beauchamp, Shelsley Kings, Shelsley Walsh, Shrawley, Stanford, Stockton, Witley (Great), Witley (Little); Stourport (except the parishes of Lower Mitton, with Stourport and Upper Mitton)—Areley Kings, Astley, Hartlebury, Bibbesford (extra municipal, part of the borough of Bewdley); Tenbury—Bockleton, Eastham, Edvin Loach, Hanley Child, Hanley William, Knighton-upon-Teme, Kyre (Magna), Kyre (Parva), Lindridge, Orleton, Tenbury; Worcester—Acton Beaucbamp, Alfrick, Bransford, Bredicot, Broadwas, Broughton Haekett, Churchill, Claines (part of), Cotheridge, Crowie, Doddenham, Grimley, Hallow, Hindlip, Holt, Huddington, Kempsey, Kenswick, Knightwick, Lulsley, Martin Hussingtrce, Norton-juxta-Kempsey, Ombersley, Powick (except Wcodsfield), St John (county part), St Martin (county part), St Peter (county part), Spetchley, Stoulton, Suckley, Tibberton, Upton Snodsbury, Warndon, White Ladies Aston, Whittington, Wichenford; Bewdley, municipal borough; Worcester, municipal borough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Administration

The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyWorcestershire 
Civil parishRibbesford 
HundredDoddingtree 
Poor Law unionKidderminster 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.


Church Records

The Bewdley parish register dates from the year 1853; earlier entries are found in the Ribbesford register.


Churches

Church of England

St. Anne (parish church)

The church of St. Anne, erected in 1748, at a cost of £2,200, is a spacious building of stone in the semi-classic style of the 17th century, and consists of chancel, nave and aisles, with galleries on the north, south and west, and an embattled western tower containing a clock and 8 bells: in 1879 a memorial window was erected in the chancel in memory of the Rev. John Fortescue, a former vicar. In 1892 the whole of the windows in the nave were re-glazed as a memorial to the Rev. Philip Alfred Pughe, a former vicar. The organ was restored in 1894 at a cost of £75. There are 750 sittings, 500 being free.


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Bewdley from the following:


Land and Property

The full transcript of the Worcestershire section of the Return of Owners of Land, 1873.


Maps

Online maps of Bewdley are available from a number of sites:


Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Worcestershire papers online:


Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Worcestershire 1569 is available on the Heraldry page.

DistrictWyre Forest
CountyWorcestershire
RegionWest Midlands
CountryEngland
Postal districtDY12
Post TownBewdley