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Kidderminster, Worcestershire

Historical Description

Kidderminster, a market-town, the head of a poor-law union and county court district, a municipal and parliamentary borough, and a parish in Worcestershire. The town stands on the river Stour and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, 3 miles NE of Bewdley, 4 N of Stourport, 7 SW of Stourbridge, and 15 N of Worcester. It has a head post office and a station on the West Midland branch of the G.W.R., 135 miles from London. It occupies a rising ground, and was known to the Saxons as Chiderminster, from three words signifying " a hill," " water," and " 3 church." The manor belonged anciently to the Crown, was given by Henry II. to the Bassets, passed to the Beauchamps, the Nevilles, the Cookseys, the Blounts, the Foleys, and others, and belongs now to the Earl of Dudley. An ancient camp is on Warsall Hill, about 3 miles to the NW, and the remnant of a castle of the lords of the manor, built in the-time of Henry IV., is at Caldwell, a short way off, on the Stour. The Foleys of Whitley Castle took from the town the title of Baron; Richard Baxter was lecturer in the parish church, the vicar having been set aside as incapable; Waller the poet was a resident; and Richard de Kidderminster, the-literary opponent of the Reformation, and Sir Rowland Hill, the originator of penny postage, were natives.

The town covers a site of both height and hollow, extends. nearly a mile in length and about half a mile in breadth, comprises numerous streets, irregularly built, but compact, well-paved, and of respectable appearance, is thoroughly drained, and has a good supply of water. A bridge of five arches spans the Stour. The town-hall, in Vicar Street, erected in 1876, is a large building, containing the municipal offices,. police court, and prisoners" cells. The corporation buildings adjoin the town-hall, were built in 1853-55 and transferred to the corporation in 1874, and contain the corn exchange. and a concert-hall. The market-hall was built in 1871. Other public buildings are the Workmen's Club and Institute, the masonic hall, the Science and Technical School, the School of Science and Art, a free reference library and newsroom. recently erected, the workhouse, and the infirmary. A statue to Richard Baxter, near the Congregational chapel, was erected in 1875, and one to Sir Rowland Hill, opposite the town-hall, in 1881. The parish church of St Mary and All Saints is a spacious edifice, mainly Early English, Decorated,, and Perpendicular, consisting of chancel with aisles, clere-storied nave and aisles, and a lofty massive Perpendicular tower in three stages, which was restored in 1894. The church was restored in 1872 and 1877; has a noble W window and other stained windows, a good reredos, added in 1880, and-contains altar-tombs of the Blount and Cooksey families and-a fine brass. The chair of Richard Baxter is in the chancel½ and an original portrait in a Perpendicular building adjoining the chancel, which was once used as a grammar school,. but is now appropriated for parish meetings. St George's Church was erected in 1823, and has a lofty ornate tower. The church of St John the Baptist was erected in 1845 in the Norman style. The tower was partially rebuilt in 1894. St James' Church is a chapel of ease to St Mary's-There are also churches in Franche and Trimpley hamlets, which are chapels of ease to the parish church of St Mary's. There are Roman Catholic, Congregational, Unitarian, Baptist, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, and the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion chapels. The pulpit of Richard Baxter is in the Unitarian chapel, Church Street, and the house in which he lived is in High Street. The grammar school was chartered by Charles I., and was reconstituted in 1874. Brinton Park is a public park of 24 acres. There is. a theatre.

The town has three banks, publishes three weekly newspapers, and is the seat of petty sessions and county courts. A weekly market is held on Thursdays and Saturdays; a cattle fair is held on alternate Tuesdays, and a pleasure fair for three days, commencing on the nearest Thursday to 20 June. The manufacture of carpets was introduced in 1735; was first confined to flat or Scotch carpets, without a pile; was extended in 1749 to cut carpets; has ever since been largely carried on; and is now occupied mainly with Brussels, Ax-minster, Wilton, and tapestry carpets; and much of the-Brussels ones is woven by steam power. Worsted spinning and dyeing also are largely carried on; and the manufacture of damask silk goods for upholsterers is considerable. There-are likewise malt-houses, breweries, a paper-mill, tan-yards, wire-works, brickfields, iron foundries, and extensive tin-plate works. The town was a borough by prescription; was first chartered by Charles I.; and is now divided into six wards, and is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18'-councillors. It sent members to Parliament in the time of Edward I.; allowed its franchise to lapse till it was revived by the Reform Act of 1832, and now sends one member to Parliament. The borough has a separate commission of the peace. Area of the municipal borough, which includes all the Old Borough and part of Kidderminster Foreign, is 1213 acres; population, 24, 803; area of the parliamentary borough, 2266 acres; population, 26, 441.

The parish comprises the divisions of Old Borough, Kidderminster Foreign, and Lower Mitton-with-Stourport, each having separate church and chapel wardens and overseers, and maintaining its own poor; extends westward to the Severn, and is cut into two unequal parts by the Stour. Kidderminster Foreign is divided for highway purposes into the hamlets of Trimpley Habberley, Franche, and Pax ton Wribbenhall, Netherton, Blackstone, Sutton, and the Lea, and Hurcott and Comberton. Much of the surface is hilly, but most is in good cultivation. Sandstone occurs, and mineral springs are at Round Hill and Burlish Common. The living of St Mary is a vicarage united with the chapelries of Trimpley and Franche, and the livings of St George and St John are vicarages in the diocese of Worcester. Gross value of St Mary's, £940 with residence; net value of St George's, £500 with residence: gross value of St John's, £400 with residence. Patron of St Mary's, the Earl of Dudley; of St George's and St John's, the Vicar of Kidderminster. The populations of the ecclesiastical parishes were: St Mary's (with Holy Trinity, Trimpley, and St Barnabas, Franche) 9947; of St George's, 8832; of St John's, 8833. The vicarages of Lower Mitton and Wribbenhall are separate benefices.

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 
Ecclesiastical parishKidderminster St. Mary 
HundredHalfshire 
Poor Law unionKidderminster 

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


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Kidderminster 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 Kidderminster 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:


Villages, Hamlets, &c

Blackdown or Blakedown
Blackstone
Commerton or Comberton
Eyemore
Franche
Netherton (Kidderminster)
Puxton

Visitations Heraldic

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

DistrictWyre Forest
CountyWorcestershire
RegionWest Midlands
CountryEngland
Postal districtDY10
Post TownKidderminster