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Feckenham (St. John the Baptist)

FECKENHAM (St. John the Baptist), a parish, in the union of Alcester, Upper division of the hundred of Halfshire, Droitwich and E. divisions of the county of Worcester, 8½ miles (S. S. E.) from Bromsgrove; containing 2787 inhabitants. This parish, anciently called Fecheham, is situated on the borders of Warwickshire, which bounds it on the east; and on the road from Alcester to Kidderminster. It comprises 6764 acres, whereof two-thirds are arable, 100 acres wood, and the remainder pasture; the soil is various, consisting of strong clay, marl, gravel, and sand. The surface, in some parts, rises into hills of considerable elevation, and the low lands are watered by a brook; the scenery is rather romantic. The population is employed in the manufacture of needles and fish-hooks, and in agriculture, in about equal numbers; the manufacture, for which the place has long been celebrated, employs much capital, and is brought to great perfection. The village is situated in the southern part of the parish; it is irregularly formed, and consists of numerous cottages, and a few respectable shops and inns. There are fairs for cattle on March 26th and September 30th. The Droitwich station on the Birmingham and Gloucester railway is distant about five miles. NorthgroveManor farm, the most ancient freehold in the parish, containing, with other lands, 450 acres, belonged in the time of Richard II. to the Northgrove family, then to the Jenets, and in 1664 came to the family of Sir Thomas Cookes, Bart., by marriage; in 1844 it was purchased by William Hemming, Esq., of Foxlydiate House, Tardebigg. Dunstall Court, a mansion in the Elizabethan style, was rebuilt in the year 1844; it is surrounded with 120 acres of land, and is the property of John Webb, Esq.

The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £9; patron and impropriator, the Rev. Edward Neale: the impropriate tithes have been commuted for £924, and the vicarial for £276; the glebe comprises 10½ acres, with a glebe-house. The church was a uniform edifice in the pointed style, but has within the last two centuries undergone considerable alteration; it consists of a nave, north and south aisles, a chancel, a gallery on the north, and an organ gallery on the west, side: the ancient tower still remains. A district church was built in 1845, at Hunt-End, in the northern portion of the parish, and about two miles from the village. There are two places of worship for Wesleyans, and one for Baptists. A free grammar school was founded and partly endowed, in 1611, by Richard Hanbury, of London, and was further endowed in 1695, by Sir Thomas Cookes, with £50 per annum, paid out of the Dunstall Court estate by Mr. Webb. John de Feckenham, an eminent divine, and the last abbot of Westminster, was born here.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.