Broseley (St. Leonard)

BROSELEY (St. Leonard), a market-town and parish, in the union of Madeley, franchise of Wenlock, S. division of Salop, 2 miles (S.) from Iron-bridge, 14 (S. E.) from Shrewsbury, and 144 (N. W.) from London, on the road from Worcester to Shrewsbury; containing 4829 inhabitants. This place, in ancient records called Burwardesley, derived its importance from the numerous mines of coal and ironstone in the neighbourhood, which made it the resort of miners; and in proportion as the works proceeded, it increased in population and magnitude. The town is irregularly built, on an eminence rising abruptly from the western bank of the river Severn, to which its eastern extremity extends, and from which its western extremity is nearly two miles distant. It consists principally of one long street, from which a few smaller streets branch towards the different collieries and other works: the houses, in general of brick and of mean appearance, are occasionally intermixed with some of more respectable character; and in detached situations are several handsome and spacious edifices. The trade consists partly in ironstonemining operations; but, from the exhausted state of the mines, this branch of trade, as well as that in coal, has declined. There are still, however, numerous coal-pits, iron-foundries, and furnaces; and fine earthenware, tobacco-pipes, bricks, and tiles, are made to a great extent: the fire-bricks for building furnaces are in high repute, and, by means of the Severn, are sent to various parts of the kingdom. A considerable portion of the population are employed in the china manufacture, at Coal-port, in the adjoining parish of Madeley. The market is on Wednesday; the fairs are on the last Tuesday in April, and Oct. 28th, and are chiefly for pleasure, though a considerable number of pigs are sold. The town is within the jurisdiction of the borough of Wenlock; courts leet for the manor are held in the town-hall in April and October, and at the latter four constables are appointed. The town-hall is a handsome brick building, in the centre of the town, supported on pillars and arches, the basement forming a spacious marketplace: the first story contains a room where the pettysessions and public meetings are held (used also as an assembly-room), and two smaller apartments. There is a small prison attached to the building, for the confinement of debtors, and for criminals previous to their committal by the borough magistrates.

The parish comprises 1912a. 2r. 14p.; the soil is fertile. The living is a rectory, with that of Linley united, valued in the king's books at £7. 18. 6½., and in the gift of Lord Forester: the tithes have been commuted for £453, and the glebe comprises 11½ acres. The church, with the exception of the ancient tower, which is of stone, has been rebuilt of brick; but something of its original character is preserved in the interior, in the octangular pillars and pointed arches that support the roof. A chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, was built in 1759, by Mr. Francis Turner Blythe, in a part of the parish called Jackfield, at a considerable distance from the church; it is a neat brick building, with a square embattled tower crowned by pinnacles. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of Francis Blythe Harris, Esq. There are places of worship for Baptists, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Independents; and national schools are supported by subscription. In 1750, John Barret, Esq., a native of the place, bequeathed £110, which sum, augmented with a legacy of £100 by Mr. Richard Edwards, and several smaller sums, amounting in the whole to £380, was invested in the purchase of land, upon which the town-hall and other houses have been erected: the rents are distributed among the poor.

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