Evesham, a market-town and municipal borough, the head of a poor-law union, two parishes, and a vale in Worcestershire. The town stands on the river Avon, 14 miles SE by E of Worcester, and 98 distant from London (106 by railway). It has a station on the G.W.R., and another on the Birmingham and Ashchurch branch of the M.R. It occupies an acclivity rising from a bend of the Avon, is engirt by that river on all sides except the N, and has pleasant environs of market gardens and orchards. It was known to the Saxons as Eoves-ham, signifying " the dwelling on a level by a river's side," yet is sometimes alleged to have derived its name from Eeves, a swine herd, who was fabled to have seen a supernatural vision, which occasioned the founding at it of a mitred Benedictine abbey. King Ethel-red in 709 gave a site for the abbey, and Egwin or Ecgwyn, bishop of the Wiccii, laid the foundation of it, and became its first abbot. The church was 300 feet long, had a nave of nine bays, 145 feet by 70, a choir of five bays, a Lady chapel, a transept 110 feet long, a south-eastern sacristy, and a north-eastern apsidal chapel; was surmounted by a central tower, and was adjoined by cloisters and a decagonal chapterhouse. It is said to have once possessed 22 towns, and to have maintained 75 monks and 65 servants. It was desecrated in 1265 by a massacre of fugitives in it from the battle of Evesham, but it retained its status till the general dissolution in the time of Henry VIII., and it then had an income variously stated at <£1184 and £1268, and was given to Philip Hobby, Esq. Henry III. took up his quarters in it, the Earl of Lancaster and other barons slain in the battle of Evesham were buried in it, and Henry IV. was entertained in it. Most of the edifice has disappeared, but the arch of its vestibule, built in 1295, still remains; the bell-tower of its cemetery, built in 1533, a beautiful structure of three storeys, 110 feet high, 28 square, panelled throughout its height, and containing fine canopied windows, also still stands. Of the domestic buildings the almonry is still intact. The battle of Evesham, between the forces of Henry III. under Prince Edward and those of the insurgent barons under the Earl of Leicester, was fought in a contracted field without any quarter given, and was one of the most remarkable and decisive battles in the English annals. The town was taken by Massey at the head of the Parliamentarian army in 1645.
The town consists chiefly of four or five regular, wide streets, with well-built houses. It is well paved and well drained, and has a good supply of water from the Cotswold Hills. The waterworks were completed in 1884 at a.cost of £12,000. It is connected with Bengeworth by a bridge of three arches over the Avon, erected in 1856. A public esplanade, upwards of 400 yards long, adjoins the bridge. The town-hall, originally Elizabethan, has been much enlarged at later* dates. The butter and poultry market is held in it. There is a market-place for fruit, vegetables, and cattle. The petty sessions are held at the police station in the High Street, erected at a cost of £5600, and opened in 1894. It is a spacious building, and has a good court-room. The Evesham Institute includes a corn exchange and assembly-room, library and reading-room, class-rooms, &c. The Evesham Cottage Hospital was erected in 1879 by public subscription, and is supported by voluntary contributions. The Evesham Sanatorium was established in 1883 for infectious diseases, and is situated at Bengeworth. The cemetery is governed by a burial board. The Grammar School was founded in 1536 by Abbot Lichfield, and was endowed by James I. Deacle's Free School, Bengeworth, was founded and endowed by John Deacle, an alderman of London, in 1706. The town has a head post office, two banks, and publishes two weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Monday. The chief business is in market-gardening, malting, and tanning. There is a brick and drain-pipe manufactory and a steam flour-mill. The workhouse is situated at Little Hampton. The town is a seat of petty sessions and county courts. It was made a borough by James I., and sent two members to parliament till 1867, when it was reduced to one representative, and by the Redistribution of Seats Act in 1885 its representation was merged in that of the county. It is governed by a town council consisting of a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, who form also the urban sanitary authority. The borough, which includes the two parishes of Evesham and the parish of Bengeworth, has a commission of the peace. Acreage of the municipal borough, 2265 , population, 5836.
The two parishes are All Saints and St Lawrence. Acreage of All Saints, 417; population, 1917. Acreage of St Lawrence, 488; population, 2547. The living of All Saints is a vicarage, with the perpetual curacy of Sfc Lawrence annexed, in the diocese of Worcester. Patron, the Lord Chancellor. Both churches stand within the parochial churchyard, and both were founded by the monks as parish churches. The church of St Lawrence, consecrated in 1295, was almost entirely rebuilt in the 16th century, and was restored in 1837. Its most striking feature is Abbot Lichfield's chapel on the south side with rich fan-tracery roof and panelled walls. All Saints' Church, partly Early English and partly Perpendicular, was restored in 1876; it contains a richly-decorated mortuary chapel of Abbot Lichfield. There are Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, Baptist, and Unitarian chapels, and places of worship for the Society of Friends and Plymouth Brethren. The Abbey Manor-House, the seat of the lord of the manor, is the chief residence. The vale of Evesham extends along the Avon to the boundary with Gloucestershire, is flanked by the Malvern Hills, possesses a rich loamy soil, contains a considerable aggregate of orchards and market gardens, produces heavy crops of wheat, and presents, with its flanks a series of fine landscapes.
Evesham Parliamentary Division, or Southern Worcestershire, was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 49,538. The division includes the following:- Blockley-Alderminster, Blockley, Cutsdean, Daylesford, Evenlode, Shipston-on-Stour, Tidmington, Tredington; Evesham-Abbots Lench, Aldington, Badsey, Bretforton, Broad-way, Cleeve Prior, Church Honeybourne, Church Lench, Hampton, Harvington, Littleton (North), Littleton (South), Norton, Offenham, Rouse Lench, Sedgeberrow, Wickham-ford; Pershore-Abberton, Abbotsmorton, Besford, Birling-ham, Bishampton Bredon, Bricklehampton, Charlton, Com-berton (Great), Comberton (Little), Conderton, Cropthorne, Defford, Dormstone, Eckington, Elmley Castle, Fladbury, Flyford Flavel, Grafton Flyford, Hill and Moor, Kington, Naunton Beauchamp, Netherton, North Piddle, Norton-265, juxta-Bredon, Overbury, Peopleton, Pershore (Holy Cross), Pershore (St Andrew), Pinvin, Pirton, Strensham, Tedding-ton, Throckmorton, Wick, Wyre Piddle; Upton-on-Severn- Borrow, Birtsmorton, Bushley, Castlemorton, Chaceley, Croome D'Abitot, Earl's Croome, Eldersfield, Hanley Castle, Hill Croome, Holdfast, Longdon, Pendock, Queenhill, Red-marley D'Abitot, Eipple, Severn Stoke, Staunton, Upton-on-Severn, Welland; Malvern (part of)-Little Malvem; Red-ditch (part of)-Feckenham, Inkberrow; Evesham, municipal borough.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Poor Law union||Evesham|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The St. Lawrence's register of baptisms and burials dates from 1556; marriages, 1569, but no marriages were solemnized in this church from 1745 to 1831.
The All Saints' register of baptisms and marriages dates from the year 1539; burials, 1538. In the register occurs the following entry: "Anno Domini Clement Lechfielde, Abbot of Evesham, buryed the ix. of Oct. 1546."
Church of England
All Saints (parish church)
The church of All Saints, standing together in the parochial churchyard with that of St. Lawrence, was erected by the inmates of the monastery for the inhabitants of the town. All Saints is a building of stone in the Early English and later styles, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, two lateral chapels, forming a quasi-transept, western porch and an embattled western tower, with pinnacles and octagonal spire, containing one bell: projecting from the south aisle is the chapel in which were interred the remains of Abbot Lichfield (1514-46); it is a simple parallelogram, in the Late Perpendicular style, with rich fan-traceried roof, and opens to the aisle by a depressed arch, with panelled soffit; the stone placed over the grave of the great abbot once inclosed an effigy and inscription in brass, now lost, but extant in the reign of Charles I.; a modern brass bearing the original inscription has been placed on the south wall of the Lichfield chapel: the church still retains one brass inscription to Robert Wyllys and Agnes his wife (c. 1520), and a scroll of the same date: the mural monuments were at the restoration shifted into new positions, a considerable number being placed in the tower: the church was thoroughly restored in 1876, at a cost of £6,000; under the directions of Mr. Frederick Preedy, architect, of London, when the foundations were excavated and the north wall taken down and rebuilt, a new chancel and vestry erected, the Lichfield chapel cleansed and the tracery restored throughout, and the floor of the church covered with concrete and cement, under which the inscribed ledgers, formerly on the floor, are now buried: the reredos, of alabaster, executed by Mr. Bolton, of Cheltenham, exhibits in the centre a carving of "The Descent from the Cross," the panels on either side being filled in with angels in the attitude of adoration: the pulpit, the gift of Mrs. Marshall, of Worcester, wife of a former vicar of Evesham, is of white alabaster, and contains figures of the four evangelists: the canopy of carved oak was the gift of the the Rev. James Manders Walker, M.A., the vicar: the carved oak rood screen, designed in the Gothic style of the 14th century, was given by the Rev. James Manders Walker, M.A., in 1906: there is also a parclose screen and a canopied stall for the vicar: choir stalls were added in 1911: the church was refloored with wood blocks in 1906: the organ, the gift of a former vicar, was enlarged in 1903 by the addition of a third manual, at a cost of £350: all the windows are stained and include three in the Lichfield chapel, added in 1883, one to Henry William Smith, a townsman, inserted in Sept. 1884, and one to commemorate the 1,200th anniversary of the dedication of the first church: the church affords 830 sittings, 500 being free.
St. Lawrence (parish church)
The church of St. Lawrence, standing together in the parochial churchyard with that of All Saints, was erected by the inmates of the monastery for the inhabitants of the town. St. Lawrence's church, an edifice of stone, is first noticed in the institutes of the abbey, compiled by Abbot Randolph in 1223, and it was consecrated by the Bishop of St. Asaph in 1295: it appears to have been originally built in the Early English style, but rebuilt in the 16th century, and is almost entirely Perpendicular of a late type: it consists of chancel, nave, aisles, Abbot Lichfield's chapel or St. Clement's chantry, on the south side, and a western tower of three stages, with a turret at the south-west angle, and a plain parapet with pinnacles, from within which rises a short spire: the tower, the lower stage of which serves as a porch, contains one bell, and has on the outside a rude carving of the Crucifixion: Abbot Lichfield's chapel is a very fine example of Late Perpendicular work, and opens to the aisle by a depressed panelled arch, inclosed by a low stone screen; it is lighted on the south and east by large Perpendicular windows; beneath the east window are traces of an altar, and on each side an elaborately canopied niche: the roof is enriched with elegant fan-tracery, springing from slender columns at three angles, and in the centre is a massive carved pendant: at the end of the south aisle there was formerly a vaulted Early English crypt, but the vaulting was destroyed during the restorations, and the crypt appropriated as a private burial place: there are six stained windows, including the east window, erected as a memorial to Hannah, wife of Thomas Appelbee, d. 11 March, 1872: the church was restored in 1837, under the direction of Mr. Harvey Eginton, at a cost of £2,514, and an organ erected at an expense of £283: the church was reopened 16th November, 1837, by Dr. Robert James Carr, Bishop of Worcester: in 1892 the church was reseated, the chancel being furnished with richly carved oak choir stalls, at a cost of about £1,300, and it now affords 833 sittings, 701 being free.
Our Lady and St. Egwin
The new Catholic church, dedicated to our Lady and St. Egwin, was erected in 1912, at an estimated cost of £5,000. The building, which is of red brick with stone lacings, in the Gothic style, consists of a chancel with apse, nave, aisles, two transepts and a western tower, the lower storey of which forms the baptistery.
Our Lady of Good Counsel, High Street
The Catholic church, in High street, removed fram Magpie lane in 1900, dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel, with presbytery attached, was a building of corrugated iron, erected at a cost of £200, and opened for divine service April 26th. 1887: it would seat 120 persons.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Evesham from the following:
Land and Property
The full transcript of the Worcestershire section of the Return of Owners of Land, 1873.
Online maps of Evesham 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.