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Madresfield in Worcestershire
Madresfield road and cottages, built between 1867 and 1871
Madresfield is a small rural hamlet on the north east boundary of Malvern in Worcestershire. Coming from the north, as you approach Madresfield from Newland, just after the 30 mph speed limit signs, the road bends sharply to the left. Here you will see a turning on the right taking you to the Madresfield Club. and directly ahead you will see the brick buildings of Hayswood Farm, home to the Madresfield Early Years Centre. Opposite that are 20 mph speed limit signs which are illuminated to slow traffic through the village when children are going to and from school.
Immediately after, on the apex of a sharp bend to the right, is a lodge and private drive leading to Madresfield Court.
The lodge at the north end of the village
As you pass through the village you will see the tower of Madresfield Parish Church on your left, and Madresfield C of E Primary School on the right, marked by a red telephone box.
The small village shop, once containing a sub post office, has long closed and is now part of a private dwelling; the post box on the wall remains and is still in use.
The Old Post Office
Earlier this was once the Sexton's house, which has an interesting weather vane in the shape of a spade. The Sexton used to dig the graves, amongst other duties.
Proceeding south out of the village, two hundred or so yards past the church, on the left you will see a turning to Madresfield Court and Home Farm, next to another lodge. This is the usual entrance for visitors to the Court.
Madresfield Court is an historic house dating from Norman times and the ancestral home of the Lygon family who had the title Earl Beauchamp.
Continue, to read more about the village.
Madresfield Working Men's Club has a skittle alley and is available to hire for social functions.
30 Madresfield, WR13 5AH
Tel 01684 573363
Madresfield School, in 2018
The present Madresfield Church of England Primary School building was erected, possibly to a design by Frederick Preedy, about 1866 with support from the Lygon family of Madresfield Court. The Worcester Journal dated Saturday 28th November 1868 contained a report of the formal opening of the 'new' school (ref 1).
While the present church of St Mary was being built the school was used as a temporary chapel and it was here in 1866 that the funeral service was held of Henry 5th Earl Beauchamp who had sadly died of tuberculosis aged only 36 years (ref 2).
When the present church was consecrated in 1867 the school was used as a robing room by the clergy (ref 3). The then headmaster of Madresfield School, Mr Thomas Gowland, played the organ at the consecration service.
Mr Gowland was still headmaster at Madresfield in 1876 when he directed the choir at the funeral of Lady Mary Lygon (ref 4), see below.
In 1877 the school had a new headmistress, Miss Helah Hodgkins, from Bledington Gloucestershire, who started the logbook now held at the Worcester Record Office. She had been trained at Whitelands College in London and entered on her duties here on January 1st 1877; the college had been founded by the Church of Englandís National Society in 1841 as a teacher training college for women; it is now part of the University of Roehampton.
Anna Maria Turner from Hanbury began work as a pupil teacher at Madresfield on January 8th 1877.
Inset into the brickwork of the chimney stack, now largely hidden by a modern extension and unnoticed, is a stone escutcheon or shield bearing two lions passant on the left side; the right half is divided into four quadrants with heraldic ermin spots and a crescent.
This is almost certainly the crest of Lady Mary Catherine Lygon nee Stanhope born in 1844 who had married Frederick Lygon, 6th Earl Beauchamp on 18th February 1868, nine months before the formal opening of the school. The lions coming from the Lygon coat of arms, and the other elements from the coat of arms of Mary's brother Sydney Stanhope, 6th Earl of Harrington.
A similar device can be seen at the top of the plaque in the church in memory of Lady Mary Countess Beauchamp who sadly died in childbirth in London in 1876 aged only 35 years leaving her husband Frederick a widower with five young children to look after (ref 4). Possibly this crest was a later addition to the school erected by Frederick in memory of his wife who was said to have been kind and gentle and always willing to help and advise those in trouble or distress.
Plaque in memory of Lady Mary Countess Beauchamp
There are references to an earlier school, and school house in the village erected by Charlotte Scott wife of the 3rd Earl Beauchamp, John Reginald Pindar; she died in 1846 and her husband left a bequest , when he died on 22nd January 1853, to maintain the school and school house in perpetuity, and to provide a school mistress (for example see memorial scroll in the bell tower of the church). We don't know at present if this earlier school was on the same site or elsewhere in the village.
Probably there had been earlier 'Dame' schools, where education was provided to a handful of poor children in cottages, funded by the churchwardens and other benefactors.
In the 1870s there had also been an 'Industrial school' in the village where less academic poor children were taught basic skills such as sewing and mending. This was conceived by Henry Lygon 5th Earl Beauchamp and started by his brother Frederick's wife Lady Mary, mentioned above, who died in 1876 (ref 4). We think this may have been located at what are now the black and white cottages next to Hayswood Farm, where in more recent times, there was once a laundry.
The earliest school logbook still in existence is held at the Worcester Record Office (The Hive) which covers the period 1877 - 1909. Illnesses, bad weather and absences to gather in the harvest featured prominently in those days.
A small income still comes from the Anne Bull charity. We think she was the daughter of Reginald Pindar (Lygon) of Madresfield Court. Anne (1652 - 1707) had married Edward Bull of Hallow Park; there is a memorial to the couple in St Bartholomew's church, Grimley, a village to the NW of Worcester.
In the 1970s Madresfield school had only 26 pupils and was in danger of closing, but since then several extensions have been made to the school, which has prospered and it now has a roll of about 100 pupils. Pupils leaving the school typically go on to The Chase High School in Barnards Green, Dyson Perrins in Malvern Link and Hanley Castle.
The ethos of the school is,
'Caring and Challenging'
Achieving together in a safe, happy, inspiring and Christian environment.
Lady Mary would have approved.
To find out more about the school click to go to the Madresfield School Website
The Madresfield Early Years Centre is a first class private nursery school for pre school children with an excellent reputation. Mrs Alice Bennett, the Principal, has obtained many awards, including the MBE in 2015. To find out more click Madresfield Early Years Centre
Car parking at the Madresfield early Years Centre
Madresfield Court, dating from Norman times, is the ancestral home of the Lygon family. It stands at the foot of the Malvern Hills in a spectacular setting among parkland and gardens at the centre of a large estate. The house is surrounded by a moat and has never been bought or sold since records began. Largely rebuilt in Victorian times, in a romantic manorial style, it is steeped in history and still a family home.
The land around Malvern, Guarlford, Newland and Madresfield was once owned by the Priory but following the dissolution of the monasteries the land was sold and changed hands many times. The Lygon family acquired land and had a great influence on the pattern of the landscape and its people. The family were once Members of Parliament for Worcestershire.
Evelyn Waugh was a frequent visitor and the house helped to inspire his book 'Brideshead Revisited'.
In 2008 Jane Mulvagh published a history of Madresfield Court and the Lygon family titled 'Madresfield the real Brideshead'. Despite one or two factual errors it is a good read.
The annual Madresfield Agricultural Show was once a great attraction. It came to an end after the last event was a financial disaster due to torrential rain on the August Bank Holiday.
The gardens of the Court are on occasion open to the public in aid of charities and are worth a visit. Visitors particularly look forward to 'Daffodil Sunday' when spring flowers are in bloom and cream teas can usually be purchased in the old playroom. In recent years the Madresfield School fete has also been hosted in the grounds in June.
Madresfield Court, viewed from the east
Visits to view the interior of the house can be made, by appointment only, in the summer.
More information about Madresfield Court and details of how to book a tour can be found on the Madresfield Estate website.
The church is approached through the lychgate opposite Madresfield School; replacement of the lettering over the lychgate was funded by pupils circa 1980.
The present Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin Madresfield (see opposite) was the gift of Henry 5th Earl Beauchamp of Madresfield Court died 1866. The work was completed by his brother Frederick the 6th Earl and the church was consecrated on 10th November 1867 by the Bishop of Worcester (ref 5).
The first church, built of wood, about 1200 stood close to Madresfield Court. About 1852 this was replaced by a stone church, the gift of the 3rd Earl Beauchamp, John Reginald Pindar, but the foundations proved inadequate so that church was taken down and the present church erected at a greater distance from the Court.
In 1999 the parishes of Guarlford and Madresfield with Newland were united to form a single parish with one Parochial Church Council. Then this new parish was linked with the parish of Powick to form the Benefice of Powick and Guarlford and Madresfield with Newland all under the care of one Rector assisted by Lay Readers.
A living church
Church of England services are held most Sundays and details are published in the Parish Magazine - 'The Grapevine' delivered free to homes within the parish. Details of services can also be found on the services page of the Guarlford Parish website and on the Madresfield church noticeboard.
Services are normally held every Sunday at 11:00 am but be sure to check the back of 'The 'Grapevine', or the website, as times can vary.
Sunday Worship on the first Sunday of the month often includes a short period of discussion and a cup of tea or coffee.
There are links with Madresfield C of E School located opposite the church, and parents are encouraged to join their children when events are held in church.
A popular Children's Service for pre-school children and parents is held at 2:15 pm on occasional Tuesdays in term time, lasting about thirty minutes. Details can be found on the noticeboard page of the Guarlford Parish website.
A team of volunteers from the parish are part of the Open the Book project, and each week the team visits Madresfield C of E School to present Bible stories during assembly, often dramatizing them. These assemblies are very popular with the children, who enjoy being involved in telling the stories.
Car parking is available in Madresfield Road outside the church and in the side road adjoining Madresfield Club.
A wooden ramp is available for wheelchairs - please ask. There is also a hearing loop and sound system; audio devices can be linked into the system to play music for special occasions, and two large print hymn books.
The Madresfield Bell Ringers are very active and welcome new members. Anyone interested can contact tower captain Geoff on 01684 572495.
The church is a popular venue for weddings and baptisms, and burials still take place in the churchyard.
Please note that the church is normally locked when services are not being held.
For further information about access, and enquiries about baptisms, confirmation, weddings and funerals, please contact the Rector at:
31 The Greenway
Tel: 01905 830270
The church interior
A detailed account can be found in a booklet at the back of the church written by Cora Weaver with illustrations by Neil G Hulbert and Boris Mayfield (price £1). Mick Levick who had been churchwarden, and a great supporter of the church, supervised production of a second edition in 2013 with colour photographs.
The photo below shows the interior of the church looking towards the altar.
Interior of Madresfield church
The decoration surrounding the Chancel Arch was commissioned by Major William Charles Hill in memory of his grandfather, the Rev Reginald Pyndar, Rector of Madresfield 1793 - 1832, and his father Rev Charles Hill, Rector 1832 - 1856. A brass plate at the base of the decoration on the left records this dedication.
Rev Reginald Pyndar was the cousin of the 1st Earl Beauchamp of Madresfield Court, and Reginald's daughter Anne had married Charles Hill who followed Reginald as Rector. Charles was the son of Thomas Hill, a High Sheriff of Worcestershire.
Other sources record Rev Charles Hill as the Rector of 'Bromsberrow and Madresfield', and indeed he is recorded as Rector of Bromsberrow in the 1851 census. That suggests he may have taken an income from both parishes and employed a curate at Madresfield.
The burial register in current use begins in 1816. Possibly the earlier burials were near the old Norman church as the present churchyard was not consecrated until 1857.
A complete survey has not yet been made of the churchyard, but there is a brief mention of some of the burials in the booklet about the church written by historian Cora Weaver; you will also find photographs of a significant number of the graves on the findagrave.com website.
As you leave the church porch and walk straight along the path, the fourth grave on the left is that of William Crump. He was one of England's great horticulturalists. Born in Shropshire in 1843 he worked for a time at Blenheim Palace, where he developed the Blenheim Orange Melon. In 1887 he was one of seven horticulturalists to receive the Victorian Medal of Honour from Queen Victoria at her Diamond Jubilee. In 1888 he became head gardener at Madresfield. He raised a new apple named William Crump, a cross between Cox's Orange Pippin and Worcester Pearmain. He died on 30th Dec 1932. His daughter was a teacher at Madresfield school.
If you turn immediately left on leaving the church and follow the footpath, on the eastern boundary of the churchyard you will see a tall monument (numbered 19 in the diagram below) with a blackened brass plaque in memory of Rev Charles Hill.
Memorial to Rev Charles Hill
The Latin inscription is extremely difficult to decypher now. Our transcription reads:
Which may roughly translate:
In memory of Charles Hill, Rector of this church, who died January 6th 1856; marked by this cross, devoted to others.
Charles Hill died at Bromsberrow before the churchyard was consecrated, and the present church built, and the monument was very likely erected many years after his death by a descendant. We wondered if there was once a cross on the top.
The churchyard was officially opened in 1857 and the first burial was that of the young wife of the Rector of Madresfield, Mary Anne Munn who died aged only 38 years, one year after arriving at Madresfield.
Her headstone, see photo opposite, is numbered 20 on the plan. You will find it in front of, and to the right of, the tall memorial to Rev Charles Hill.
The inscription reads:
Here rests Mary Anne the wife of the Rev George S Munn, Rector of this church and parish, who fell asleep Feb XXI, MDCCCLVII
The Lychgate was later also erected in her memory, where there is a small plaque reading 'To the Glory of God, in memory of Mary Anne Munn 1857'
Next to Mary Anne Munn is buried Dorothy, the daughter of the Rev George Munn and his second wife, who died on 15th October 1876 aged 1 year and 4 months.
On the south side of the chancel are burials of the Lygon family of Madresfield Court.
1. Lady Mary Lygon (1910 - 1982) sister of the 8th Earl Beauchamp
2. Hon Richard Edward Lygon (1916 - 1970)
3. William 7th Earl Beauchamp (1872 - 1938)
4. Hon Hugh Patrick Lygon (1904 - 1936)
5. Emily Countess Beauchamp (1853 - 1935), the second wife of Frederick
6. Frederick Lygon 6th Earl Beauchamp (1830 - 1891), who lies between his wives; he forbade a memorial in his will and his grave is marked by kerbing which has no inscription (refs 6, 7)
7. Rt Hon Mary Catherine Countess Beauchamp (1844 - 1876), the first wife of Frederick
8. Henry Lygon 5th Earl Beauchamp (1829 - 1866) who died from tuberculosis; his grave is a notable box tomb.
The photo below shows the east end of the church where, outside, below the window, there is a memorial to Rev George Munn, who was Rector of Madresfield for 49 years from 1856 to 1905. His daughters assisted at the village school. The Munn family moved to what is now the Old Rectory, in Rectory Road, a large property, which was built in 1857.
East end of Madresfield church
The inscription on the wall of the church translates as,
Pray for the soul of George S Munn, Rector for 49 years
died in the Lord 13th January 1906 aged 85
Remember me O my God for good. Amen
General Henry Lygon, 4th Earl Beauchamp, who died in 1863, is said to be buried beneath the east window alongside his wife whose coffin was moved from London by their son Frederick (ref 8). Their grave is unmarked now. Newspaper reports suggest the 4th Earl's coffin had first been interred in a mausoleum at the old church (ref 9).
Further in front of the east Window there is a memorial to Rev Ernest Leggett Phillipo (9) who was Rector of Madresfield from 1947 to 1955. Educated at Durham and Lichfield; previously Rural Dean of Bromsgrove and Vicar of St George's church Redditch, he was a keen worker for missionary causes and took a great interest in diocesan educational matters.
Nearby, to your right, you will see a row of six iron memorials (10-15) to children of James and Ellen Gorle which are a sad reminder of the high incidence of child mortality before the advent of modern medicine. The children's father James is recorded in the census as an agricultural labourer and cowman of Church House, Madresfield. Possibly this was the black and white cottage opposite the present church.
It is thought these children may have died of either smallpox or diptheria; happily other children lived to a good age. Ellen Gorle who was born in 1868 assisted in the village school in 1881.
Most of the memorials inside the church relate to the Lygon family. A window in the north wall remembers three men who died during the Boer War (see photo below).
The window has three sections and the inscription at the bottom reads across all three. Here is our transcription,
We pray you remember in the Lord,
Edward Hugh Lygon, Grenadier Guards, born July 17th 1873, killed on active service in South Africa March 23rd 1900, also
Granville William Richard Somerset, RN RM GM born Sep 9th 1862 died Nov 25th 1901, also
Richard Fitzroy Somerset, Grenadier Guards and W African Field Force, born August 9th 1865, died of fever contracted on active service, March 2nd 1899.
Edward was the second son of Frederick Lygon (1830 - 1891) 6th Earl Beauchamp a high churchman who completed the building of the present Parish Church. The Somerset men were the sons of Frederick's sister Georgina Lygon (1822 - 1865) who married Richard Henry Fitzroy Somerset 2nd Baron Raglan.
On the south wall of the nave are two small stone memorials. One records three men who died in the Great War; the tablet reads:
Francis Robert Knowles
Francis Robert Knowles Private 12746 1st Bn the Worcestershire regiment was killed in action at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, France on the 13th March 1915.
Allan James Knowles
Allan James Knowles, Corporal 3016, the Machine Gun Corps was killed on 30th September 1918, just six weeks before the end of the war. His story can be found on the Malvern Remembers website (ref 10). He was the brother of Francis.
Their father, Robert George Knowles, was a long serving bell ringer at Madresfield. A memorial scroll in the bell tower of the church dated December 13th 1931 commemorates his 50th year as a bell ringer and that he had attained the honoured position of Master Bell Ringer of the County of Worcester.
Alfred George Hurren, Private 16358, the Coldstream Guards was killed in action during the Battle of Cambrai, France on the 30th November 1917.
He was the son of Charles and Mary Hurren of Yates Hay Road, Malvern Link.
At one time there was a police station in Rectory Road, and Charles Hurren had been the village policemen. It seems very likely the three boys grew up together and had attended Madresfield school.
The other memorial records two men who died during the Second World war. The tablet reads:
Ernest Gilbert Morris of 24 Madresfield was a labourer at Lower Woodsfield Farm and also served as a Private in the Malvern Home Guard. He died as the result of a cycling accident on the night of 10th January 1942 aged 39 years.
Mick Wilks relates in his excellent book 'Chronicles of the Worcestershire Home Guard' (ref 11) that:
He was the son of Edward and Harriet Elizabeth Morris, and left a widow Ellen and two children. Ernest Gilbert Morris is buried in the churchyard of St Mary, Madresfield.
Harry George Preece is recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves database as Harry George Walker. He was the son of Lucy Walker and stepson of Harry George Preece of Madresfield.
He was an Ordinary Seaman, Royal Navy, who was killed on 19th December 1941 when the cruiser HMS Neptune struck a mine. He was aged only 17 years.
Rectors of Madresfield
A board on the north wall of the nave records the names of past Rectors.
List of Rectors
On the 27th May 2018 Rev Gary Crellin was appointed to the Benefice of Powick and Guarlford and Madresfield with Newland, succeeding Sue Irwin as the Rector of Madresfield.
At the west end of the church there is a beautiful stained glass window from the second church depicting Christ in Majesty, centre, being worshipped (see photo below).
The base of the Font below the west window bears the inscription:
This Font was presented
To the church at Madresfield
by John Reginald Pindar
3rd Earl of Beauchamp
Anno Domini 1852
The date suggests that the font had been gifted on the opening of the earlier church built in 1852 and later moved to its present position in 1867 after the earlier building had to be demolished due to inadequate foundations.
Around the top of the font are the words,
Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God
The bronze monument under the west window is an Art Noveau memorial to the Hon Edward Hugh Lygon (1873 - 1900) and his cousin the Hon Richard Fitzroy Somerset (1865 - 1899) who both died during the Boer war.
Madresfield Court has a beautifully decorated small private family chapel, inside the Court, dating from about 1865, with subsequent embellishments, which you will see if you tour the house.
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Last updated 3rd December 2018