Astley (St. Peter)
ASTLEY (St. Peter), a parish, in the union of Martley, Lower division of the hundred of Doddingtree, Hundred-House and W. divisions of the county of Worcester, 3 miles (S. W. by S.) from Stourport; containing 834 inhabitants. An alien priory of Benedictine monks was founded here by Ralph de Todeni, in the reign of William I.; it was annexed to the college of Westbury, in that of Edward IV., and given, at the Dissolution, to Sir Ralph Sadleir. The parish is bounded on the east by the river Severn, and comprises 2960a. 3r. 10p., whereof about 450 acres are woodland: the surface is very unequal, and rather hilly; the soil is a sandy loam, and highly productive; and the scenery picturesque. There are quarries of red sandstone. Woodhampton House, the seat of Mrs. Cookes, is a commodious mansion at the foot of a well-wooded hill; and among other handsome residences are Oakhampton and Hill House. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £15. 13. 4.; patrons, I. Russell Cookes, Esq., and the Trustees of the late Rev. D. J. J. Cookes. The tithes have been commuted for £750, and the glebe consists of 20 acres of land, of a very mixed quality; the rectory-house adjoins the church. The church, pleasantly situated on a hill, is an ancient building chiefly of Norman architecture, and supposed to have been erected about the year 1090, and the Gothic tower about 1500; in 1839 a north aisle was added, and the edifice entirely restored: there are altar-tombs with recumbent effigies of members of the family of Blount. A free school is endowed with about £20 per annum, left by Mrs. Mercy Pope in 1717. Cottages have been built at Redstone Ferry, the site of an ancient hermitage excavated in a lofty cliff by the side of the river.