The Village The Name and The Place
based on original research of the late Michael Craze M.A.
As well as Whittington Worcestershire, there are Whittingtons in Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Shropshire and Staffordshire, all of them Saxon ‘Shires’.
The name Whittington was derived from ‘the enclosure’ (- ton) ‘belonging to’ (-ing) a Saxon called ‘White’. In our own area are Huddington, Eckington and two Harvingtons, all similar Saxon enclosures.
The Angles and Saxons came to Britain from the North German coast in search of more land from the fifth century on, settling first in coastal areas but later travelling up the rivers. By the end of the seventh century, Worcester was the capital of a tribe called the Hwicce, whose land included parts of Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, as well as all Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and, of course, Worcestershire. They made Worcester their administrative centre long before the Bishopric was founded in 680 A.D. So Whittington must already have been ‘White’s enclosure’ by the start of the seventh century. It had everything that a ‘family’ living on the land could possibly want. There was plough land and pasture, water in the Long Brook and a natural watchtower in what they called ‘the Barrow’. A Saxon ‘family’ included three generations of free men and women and any number of slaves, between them keeping watch day and night, fire and cattle thieving being the commonest dangers.
A Charter of 980 A.D. in the British Museum gives the HWITINTON bounds. They begin in the southeast and go clockwise, as in most Anglo Saxon surveys. From ‘Tyda’s Clearing’ the walker reaches the ‘RED WAY’, goes down it and then veers west of the ‘BARROW’ (BEORH). It is the same today, over a thousand years later. The official parish boundary still starts at the back of The Firs, reaches the Pershore Road, goes down it for 300 yds and then veers left behind ‘CROOKBARROW HILL’.
The Saxon bounds went on to ‘Plum Ridge’ and the ‘Cold Spring’ and ‘Reed Clearing’ (HREOD LAEGE) and ‘HIGH STREET’ (HAEH STRAETE), that is, the London Road. Arthur Jones in his book ‘Anglo Saxon Worcester (1958)’ placed the Reed Clearing at the back of his own house, 12 Whittington Road. It would have been thereabouts but was probably more extensive than that.
These Saxon bounds went up the road to ‘SWINES HEAD’ (SWYNES HEAFOD), Swinesherd on the left of the Spetchley Road, and then swung right to ‘CYNHILD’S HOMESTEAD’, south of Swinesherd Farm. Passing through a meadow beside a wood going down a hedgerow they reached the Long Brook, from there they continued to ‘Broad Moor Ridge’ and along a ‘Boundary Dyke’ to a second ‘High Street’ going down this as far as the Brook, then kept above the low lying land till they crossed the High Street and from there came back to ‘Tyda’s Clearing’.
This second High Street was a Roman cart road and pack horse route and is still shown as a bridleway on the modem Ordnance Survey maps. The route travels from the junction of Berkeley Close along Brewer’s Lane, passing under the motorway to Old House Farm and on to eventually meet the B4084 at Low Hill.
These Saxon bounds were probably three centuries old by 980 A.D. and remained until they were changed by the City of Worcester (Extension) Order of 1931. Whittington lost the Whittington Road, the College for the Blind and much else in that area, enabling the city to build up to Walkers Lane.
A HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE
By Les Wiltshire
(ISBN 0-9538223-0-3) Copies of this book which has a lot of old and interesting photographs of the Village are still available.
Compiled by Jannine Wheatley M.A.
based on original research of the late Michael Craze M.A.
THE HOLDEN FAMILY
The Rev. William Rose Holden and his wife Betty came to Worcester in 1829 when he was appointed the Chaplain of St. Oswald’s Hospital. He came from the rectory of Burton Bradstock on the Dorset coast where he and his wife had raised three sons and a daughter; John, William, Hyla and Eliza.
When his second son William was ordained in 1836 he became assistant chaplain, moving into the Chaplain’s house in the Tything. William Rose Holden and Betty moved to a newly built family house on Lark Hill, which they called Dorset Cottage.
Sadly in 1837 Betty Holden died at the age of 57 and was buried at Whittington; this was to be the first of many family burials here. In January 1842 Rev. William Holden’s infant twins, Hyla and Reuben aged just three and four days, were buried here by their grandfather. In July of that same year Rev. William Rose Holden laid the corner stone of the new church, to which he had been the biggest subscriber. He was the Bishop’s Chaplain at the dedication service in 1844 and his youngest son Hyla, a solicitor, gave a silver alms dish. The inscription on the reverse records this and other items given by him: –
“Hiyla Holden Gent. Gave this Alms Bason together with the Flagon, Chalice and Paten to The Chapelry of Whittington on Tuesday the nineteenth day of March in the year of our Lord 1844 being the day of the Consecration of the New Chapel”.
All of these items are still in use today.
On February 24th 1845 Rev. William Holden, was buried at Whittington, aged 32. Four years later, on March 12th 1849 Eliza Mary Holden was laid to rest at Whittington, aged 30. In 1850 the remaining family gave the beautiful east window, which was made in Newcastle upon Tyne, and dedicated as a memorial window in May that year. The glass was designed by Frederick Preedy and can be compared with the Queen Adelaide memorial window in the south transept of Worcester Cathedral, which he worked on a year or two later.
Rev. William Rose Holden was buried at Whittington on April 21st 1854 aged 78 and the little north chancel window is inscribed to his memory. The eldest son John Rose Holden spent many years in New South Wales Australia, but died in Worcester and was buried at Whittington on May 5th 1860 aged 50; the south chancel memorial window is his.
On July 31st 1874 Hyla Holden, Under-Sheriff of Worcester, died aged 58. He too was buried at Whittington, and his memorial window in the nave probably marked his favoured pew on the south side.
REAR ADMIRAL HERBERT BRACE POWELL (1785-1857)
There are many reminders of Rear Admiral Brace Powell in Whittington Church. The most impressive is the monument, by Stephens, on the north wall. His will was dated May 5th 1856 and there is much to thank him for with his legacies to the church.
Herbert Brace Powell was born in Newtown, Herefordshire, but after service as a Captain in the French Wars he returned to live in Worcester. He called his home in London Road “Heron Lodge” after H.M.S. Heron, the vessel which was commanded by him in the French Wars. In 1816 he commanded H.M.S. Impregnable in the Battle of Algiers. He was present at the dedication of the new Whittington Church in 1844 as Captain Powell, R.N. Later in the 1840’s he was promoted to Rear Admiral and with a Grant of Arms took his motto ‘Impregnable”.
He died on December 20th 1857. A letter to John Walker, the Churchwarden at the time, details his two legacies to the church. The first is a legacy of £200 directing the “interest to be applied forever towards the repair of Whittington Chapel and repair of the monument erected to my memory, provided my body is not disturbed or removed from the said chapel”.
This proviso was to be of great interest in May 1997 when the church was re-ordered. As the altar was being moved forward, Brace Powell’s outer vault was uncovered in the sanctuary. Photographs of it were taken for posterity before it was reinstated.
The second legacy of £80 was for the purchase of a clock for the use of Whittington Chapel. This clock was assiduously wound twice a week until it was recently converted to an electric automatic winding mechanism. It is not known why it points in a westerly direction from its position high in the tower. A permanent marble tablet, also by Stephens, giving notice of his gifts is to be found on the west wall inside the church.
ABRAHAM EDWARD PERKINS (1808-1873)
Abraham Edward Perkins, the Church architect, was buried in the churchyard in April 1873, aged 65, but little is known about his early life. He was a pupil of Rickman of Birmingham but is virtually unknown outside Worcestershire. Whittington was his first commission, which he planned, in the Early English Style, receiving a 5% architect’s commission which amounted to £39.14s.0d. It must have been a proud moment when he and the builder, Mr. Drake of Henwick, led the procession to the site of the Church to see the corner stone being laid. It took twenty months for the new stone Chapel, as we know it, to be rebuilt on the same ground plan and with a similar roof structure. Few of the graves in the churchyard were disturbed, but it seems that only the monuments, engraved slab-stones and the font were returned to the new Chapel.
Perkins was then appointed to be the Cathedral architect in 1845, but in 1859 Sir Gilbert Scott was brought in to complete the restoration with him. Although Perkins was the architect for other churches such as Little Witley in 1868, it was to Whittington that he brought his fourteen-year-old daughter, Anne Maria Perkins, in 1863 to be buried. At that time he was probably living in Sidbury. He died at his home in College Yard in April 1873 and was buried at Whittington by Canon Ryle Wood on April 19th. There are very few other details to be found about him, but Whittington was always his favourite church.
JOHN WALKER (1794-1863)
John Walker was Chapel Warden from 1831 to 1863 and the commemorative stained glass window on the north side of the nave and the plaque in the Church are a reminder of his time as church warden, and the generosity he showed in the rebuilding of the Chapel.
On July 25th 1842 following the laying of the corner stone of the new Chapel by Rev. William Rose Holden, John Walker and his wife Elizabeth entertained 200 guests to lunch in a marquee on the lawn at Walkers Place. There were speeches, toasts and dancing. That evening in the marquee the Walkers feasted the local labourers and cottagers, while the workmen engaged on the Church were feasted in the Swan Inn at John Walker’s expense, as is quoted in the Berrows Journal of July 28th 1842:
“Thus the clergy and laity, high and low, rich and poor; were abundantly supplied by the bounty of a private gentleman whose excellent and christian example we could wish to see more generally imitated”.
A large room had already been fitted up at the back of Walkers Place where a service had been held the previous day. That room continued to be Whittington’s temporary Church until the consecration of the new building on March 19th 1844.
It was Hyla Holden who, at the Easter Vestry meeting in 1870, proposed that a window be set up to the memory of John Walker, chapel warden from 1831 to 1863. Its central position on the north side of the nave suggests that this is where John Walker sat.
Mrs. HENRY WOOD (1814-1887)
See the excellent website by Michael Flowers at:
On March 17th 1836 Ellen Price of St. Peter’s, Worcester was married to Henry Wood of St. Vedast, Foster Lane, London at Whittington. He was a banking and shipping magnate and she was to become famous as Mrs. Henry Wood the Victorian novelist, drawing on the memories of her early years in Worcester for many of her stories.
Her paternal grandparents are buried at Whittington; William Price “of Sidbury” on April 27th 1821, and Mary Price “of London Road” on February 20th 1829. Their son Thomas Price was Ellen’s father, and her mother Elizabeth came from Grimley. Ellen was the eldest of eleven children, five boys and six girls. Three of the girls died before the age of two and are buried at Whittington, which was then a chapel in St. Peter’s parish and chosen by the Price family for baptisms, marriages and burials.
Her five brothers all attended the King’s School between 1826 and 1838 with the school and its environs featuring in the books she began writing after her marriage to Henry Wood. This had taken place in Whittington Church in 1836. After living in France for 20 years they returned to England, settling in Norwood, London.
Ellen’s first novel Danesbury House won her a ��100 prize from the Scottish Temperance Society and took its title from the actual name of the family’s Sidbury home, which was demolished in 1889. The present three storied, much modernised building, houses a restaurant and carries a plaque which commemorates the site’s connection with Mrs. Henry Wood.
The most famous of her novels are The Channings, in which Worcester is Helstonleigh; Mildred Arkell in which Worcester is Westerbury, and the sensational East Lynne. In all she wrote about 40 novels selling quite literally millions of copies.
Mrs. Henry Wood died on February 10th 1887 at the age of 73 and was buried at Highgate Cemetery where a red granite monument marks her grave. There is a portrait of her in the Guildhall and she is also commemorated in the north transept of Worcester Cathedral, where a tablet to her memory depicts her portrait in slight relief on a marble panel.