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Droitwich, Worcestershire

Historical Description

Droitwich, a market-town, a municipal borough, the head of a poor law union and county court district, and three parishes, in Worcestershire. The town stands on the river Salwarpe, near the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, 63-miles NE by N of Worcester, and is 1'25½ miles distant by rail from London. It has a canal of its own 5½ miles long, cut in 1768 by Brindley, going to the Severn, at the mouth of the Salwarpe, and falling 56½ feet with six locks. It is supposed to have been the Salinse of the Romans; it has been famous from remote times for great salt springs; and it acquired its name from the word " droit," denoting a right by royal grant to keep the springs open, and the Saxon word ' wyche," signifying a salt spring. It was populous in the times of the Conqueror, and had manorial connection with the Crown till the time of King John, and it was the headquarters of Charles I. in 1645, and stood so stoutly out for his cause as to receive from him a letter of thanks. Subsidences of the land have taken place through the removal of the salt, and part of the old town has been rendered unsafe. An extension of the town towards the suburb of Witton has taken place in consequence. Droitwich has a station on the G.W.R. and M.R., and a head post office. The town-hall, called also the court-chamber, has a market underneath; it was erected in 1826, and has since been enlarged; it is used for the sittings of the county court as well as for the transaction of municipal business. St Andrew's Church stands at the junction of High Street and St Andrew Street, and is Early English, with a good tower. St Peter's Church stands about a mile south of the town, is an ancient cruciform structure, originally Norman; it was restored in 1853, and contains a fine recumbent effigy of George Wylde, and several tablets to the Nash family. St Nicholas' Church, near the railway station, was erected in 1869, and contains some good stained glass. An Augustinian friary was founded at the town by the Beauchamps. Markets are held on Fridays. The rock salt lies in two main beds below the level of the sea, the one from 120 to 150 feet below the surface, and of a thickness of 63 feet; the other 30 feet lower, of a thickness varying from 87 to 18U feet. The brine originally rose to the surface in natural saline springs, but is now pumped from a considerable depth, shafts being sunk through the upper beds, which are composed of sandstone alternating with marl and gypsum. Over 30u,000 tons of salt are produced annually. The Brine Baths, established for the cure of rheumatism, gout, &c., afford every convenience to invalids, and the Droitwich waters surpass in saltness even the Dead Sea. A cottage hospital was established in 1881 to extend to the poor the benefit of the brine baths. Another hospital was erected in 1893. Salters Hall, a spacious building erected by Mr J. Corbett, M.P., in 1880, is used for the Droitwich Institute, a volunteer armoury, and for public meetings. There are Wesleyan, Baptist, and Plymouth Brethren chapels. There are some extensive charities, including almshouses for 36 persons. Privileges were granted to the town by King John, and a charter was granted by James I.; it sent two members to Parliament from 1554 till the Act of 1832 reduced it to one, and in 1885 its representation was merged in that of the county. It is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. The borough has a commission of the peace, and is the seat of petty sessions and county courts. The municipal borough comprises the parishes of St Andrew, St Nicholas, and St Peter. Acreage, 1662; population, 4021. Bishop de la Wich and Chief Baron Wylde were natives. Roman coins of Claudius, Hadrian, and other emperors have been found.

The three parishes are St Andrew, St Nicholas, and St Peter. Acreage of St Andrew, 522; population of civil parish, 1139; of ecclesiastical, 1232. Acreage of St Nicholas, 658; population of civil parish, 1998; of ecclesiastical, 1427. Acreage of St Peter, 482; population, 884. The living of St Andrew is a rectory, with that of the extinct parish of St Mary-Witton annexed; net value, £107 with residence. Patron, the Lord Chancellor. The living of St Nicholas is also a rectory; gross value, £182 with residence. Patron, the Lord Chancellor. The living of St Peter is a vicarage; net value, o£92 with residence. All three are in the diocese of Worcester.

Droitwich Parliamentary Division, or Mid Worcestershire, was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 48,745. The division includes the following:- Droitwich-Crutch, Dodderhill, Doverdale, Elmbridge, Elm-ley Lovett, Hadzor, Hampton Lovett, Hanbury, Himbleton, Oddingley, Salwarpe, Shell, Stock and Bradley, Westwood; Kidderminster-Chaddesley Corbett, Kidderminster Foreign (part), Rushock, Stone, Wolverley; Stourbridge (part of)- Belbroughton, Broom, Churchill, Clent, Hagley, Pedmore, Stourbridge, Swinford (Upper), Wollaston,Wol]cscote; Broms-grove (part of)-Grafton Manor, Stoke Prior, Upton Warren; Redditch (part of)-Bentley Pauncefoot, Webheath; Stour-port (part of)-Lower Mitton-with-Stourport, Upper Mitton; Droitwich, municipal borough; Kidderminster, 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 
HundredHalfshire 
Poor Law unionDroitwich 

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


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Droitwich from the following:


Land and Property

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


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.