Norton-by-Kempsey (St. James)
NORTON-BY-KEMPSEY (St. James), a parish, in the union of Pershore, Lower division of the hundred of Oswaldslow, W. division of the county of Worcester, 3½ miles (S. S. E.) from Worcester; containing 601 inhabitants. This place, which by the adjunct to its name is distinguished from other Nortons in the county, was during the reigns of Henry IV. and V. the residence of the Gowers of Warwickshire, escheators of Worcestershire, of whose ancient seat, Woodhall, little more remains than the stately avenue of elm-trees, that formed the approach. One of this family married a daughter of the house of Dudley, who was styled Lady Dudley of Woodhall; and in the reign of James I., the estate was sold by William Gower to Mr. Stevens, of Newington, in the county of Middlesex, whose tomb is still preserved in the church. The parish is situated near the turnpike-road to Pershore, and comprises by measurement 1846 acres, of which 1157 are arable, 600 meadow and pasture, and the remainder woodland, plantations, and roads. The surface is pleasingly varied, and in many places very picturesque. From the hamlet of Hatfield are obtained beautiful views of the surrounding country, embracing the Bredon and Malvern hills, with the town of Malvern, the Woodbury and Cruckbarrow hills, Worcester cathedral, the spire of St. Andrew's church, and other interesting objects. The soil is a rich clay and marl, producing excellent crops of wheat, beans, and peas; and the substratum chiefly blue lias, which is quarried for building, and for burning into lime. The Birmingham and Gloucester and the Oxford and Wolverhampton railways intersect the parish. Norton Hall, the seat of Benjamin Hooke, Esq., an old mansion previously the residence of Thomas Bird, Esq., has been greatly improved and enlarged by the present proprietor. Norton Villa, the residence of George J. A. Walker, Esq., is pleasantly situated on the north-east side of the road, in grounds tastefully laid out, embellished with thriving plantations, and commanding extensive and finely varied prospects: Newland House, the residence of Thomas Hooke, Esq., is also pleasantly situated. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, valued in the king's books at £2. 12. 6.; net income, £100, with an excellent house. The appropriate tithes were commuted in 1841 for £460, and the appropriate glebe comprises 41 acres. The church is a very ancient structure with a tower. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans; a parochial school is supported by subscription, and a Sunday school by Mrs. Walker, who has presented a library for the use of the children attending it. Thomas Knight in 1652, and Elizabeth Stevens in 1668, bequeathed each £100 to the poor.
Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.