Bromsgrove (St. John The Baptist)

BROMSGROVE (St. John The Baptist), a market-town and parish, the head of a union, and formerly a borough, in the Upper division of the hundred of Halfshire, Droitwich and E. divisions of the county of Worcester, 13 miles (N. E. by N.) from Worcester, 13 (S. W.) from Birmingham, and 116 (N. W.) from London; containing 9671 inhabitants. This place, anciently Bremesgrave, was a royal demesne at the time of the Conquest, and continued to be so till the reign of Henry III.: it returned members to parliament in the 23rd of Edward I. During the civil war it was the head-quarters of a party of royalists employed in the siege of Hawkesley House, about three miles distant, which, in 1645, was fortified and garrisoned by the parliament. The town is pleasantly situated on the western bank of the river Salwarp, and consists principally of one street, extending for a considerable distance along the Birmingham and Worcester turnpike-road; the houses are in general substantial and well built; and the inhabitants amply supplied with water. In 1846 an act was passed for paving and otherwise improving the place. The principal articles of manufacture are nails and silk buttons: potatoes, for the Bristol and other markets, are extensively cultivated in the neighbourhood. The Birmingham and Worcester canal passes within three miles to the east; and the Birmingham and Gloucester railway has one of its principal stations a mile and a quarter distant. The market is on Tuesday; the fairs are on June 24th and October 1st. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates: a bailiff and other officers are appointed at the court leet of the lord of the manor, held at Michaelmas; and a court is held every third week, for the recovery of debts under 40s. The town hall is a neat and commodious building, in the centre of the town.

The parish comprises 10,968 acres: the soil is in some parts fertile, in others of inferior quality. To the north of the town is Bromsgrove Lickey, a range of lofty hills, commanding an extensive and diversified prospect of the surrounding country; a considerable part, comprising a tract of 2000 acres, has been inclosed, and produces good crops of clover, turnips, and potatoes. A spring rising among these hills divides into two streams, one of which, flowing northward, joins the river Rea, and, uniting with the Trent, falls into the North Sea; the other, running into the Stour, joins the Severn, and empties itself into the Irish Sea. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £41. 8. 1½.; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, whose tithes have been commuted for £1200, and whose glebe consists of 75a. 3r. 22p.: the vicarial tithes have been commuted for £1100, and the glebe consists of 1a. 2r., with a house. The church is a very ancient structure, combining portions in the Norman style and the decorated and later English styles, of which last the tower and spire are fine specimens; the interior contains many interesting monuments. A district church was built at Catshill in 1837. There are places of worship for Baptists, Primitive Methodists, Independents, and Wesleyans; and a Roman Catholic chapel at Grafton, an extra-parochial liberty adjoining. A free grammar school was instituted, with an endowment of £7 per annum, by charter of Edward VI., confirmed by Queen Mary; and the original endowment was augmented with £50 per annum by Sir Thomas Cookes, Bart., of Bentley, who in 1714 founded six scholarships, of £50 per annum each, in Worcester College, Oxford, for this school and four others in the county; and six fellowships, of £150 per annum each, in the same college, to which, as vacancies occur, those who hold the scholarships succeed. Thomas Hawkes, in 1809, left £1000 four per cent. bank annuities for the benefit of the poor; and there are several other endowments. The union of Bromsgrove comprises 15 parishes or places, of which 11 are in the county of Worcester, 2 in that of Salop, and one in each of the counties of Stafford and Warwick; and contains a population of 22,357. At Dadford, two miles from the town, are the remains of a small priory of Præmonstratensian canons founded by Henry I., now part of a farmhouse. At Shepley are some traces of the Roman Ikeneld-street; near Gannow is a petrifying spring.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.