Kempsey (St. Mary)

KEMPSEY (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Upton-upon-Severn, Lower division of the hundred of Oswaldslow, Worcester and W. divisions of the county of Worcester, 4¼ miles (S.) from Worcester; containing 1367 inhabitants. This place is supposed to have derived its name, originally Camp's Eye, from an ancient military intrenchment, occupying an area of about fifteen acres, and skirted from north to south by the river Severn, which forms the western boundary of the parish. Several fragments of sepulchral urns, cups, and pans of various shapes and sizes, evidently belonging to the time of the Romans and the Romanized or later Britons, were dug out of a gravel bed in the year 1835, and four following years. A monastery was founded in 799, which, after it had flourished for nearly a century, was united to the see of Worcester, whose bishops had a palace here. In this palace Henry II. held his court; and in 1265, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, with his prisoner Henry III., took up his residence in it, a short time previously to the battle of Evesham, in which he was defeated and slain. The parish comprises 3105 acres, of which 292 are common or waste; the soil, which is fertile, varies from a marly kind of clay to a rich loamy earth, and the meadows along the bank of the Severn are luxuriant. The surface is generally level, with gentle undulations, and the neighbourhood, which is well wooded, abounds with interesting objects. The village is situated near the eastern bank of the river, on the road to Gloucester, and consists principally of respectable houses, with some handsome mansions and villas. Of the episcopal palace nothing remains but the site, on which the bishop's steward annually observes the ceremony of opening a court leet and baron. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £6. 18. 9.; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Worcester. The great tithes have been commuted for £553, and the vicarial for £230; the appropriate glebe comprises 187 acres. The church is a spacious cruciform structure of stone, erected on part of the site of the ancient encampment, and retaining, amidst numerous alterations and repairs, some vestiges of its original character. Here is an old school-house in which ten boys are taught from an endowment in 1652 by Christopher Meredith, one of the individuals to whom the parliament, in the time of Cromwell, delegated the profits of the see of Worcester.

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

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