THE BCH ARCHIVE
LOCAL HISTORY FOR
And The Surrounding District
Church of St Gregory : Castlemorton
One of four churches in the benifice of Longdon, Queenhill, Bushley and Castlemorton, St Gregory's shares the services of the Reverend Chris Moss.
Castlemorton Parochial Church Council (CPPC) is responsible for mowing the churchyard.
The PCC consists of the clergy and churchwardens of the parish, together with a number of representatives of the laity elected at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting by means of being nominated and seconded at the meeting, and also being listed on the parish roll for at least six months. The incumbent is the chairman of the PCC and a lay member is appointed vice-chairman. The PCC must meet at least four times a year. The PCC is responsible for the financial affairs of the church and the care and maintenance of the church fabric and its contents, including demanding chancel repair liability from local inhabitants. These latter responsibilities are executed by churchwardens or other volunteers.
A PCC is always a charity. Since 2008 under the Charity Commission's The Excepted Church Charity Programme, only PCCs with a gross income of over £100,000 are required to register with the Charity Commission. The members of all PCCs, whether registered or not, are trustees.
A chapel existed at Castlemorton before 1333 and was annexed to the church of Longdon until 1880, when Castlemorton was constituted a separate ecclesiastical parish, the living, a vicarage, being in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. In 1333, when the church of Longdon was appropriated, provision was made for a priest to serve the annexed chapel of Castlemorton.
A church (or chapel of ease) was erected at Castlemorton in 1387 and a graveyard was made on account of the distance from Longdon and the badness of the roads.
In 1684, the chapel was sold in trust for G Stradling.
Sir William Houghton, Kt., gave one cow valued at 16s. for the maintenance of an obit in the church of Castlemorton.
The church of ST. GREGORY consists of chancel 20 ft. 4 in. by 16 ft. 6 in., nave 51 ft. 6 in. by 24 ft., south aisle 9 ft. wide with transeptal chapel at the east end 19 ft. 3 in. by 16 ft. 4 in., north porch and west tower 13 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft. surmounted by a stone spire. All the above measurements are internal.
The chancel and nave probably represent an early 12th-century chapel, to which an aisle and chapel were apparently added about 1200. In 1387 a reconstruction probably took place and the tower was added or rebuilt, the church and churchyard being at this date rededicated.
In 1647 the sum received by the sale of the leaden steeple in the churchyard of Worcester Cathedral (£617 4s. 2d.) was allotted towards the repair of Castlemorton Church and others. At this date it would seem the arcade of three arches with a half arch at the west end was rebuilt with wide pointed arches, possibly owing to a threatened or actual ruin of the building. The west pier is of circular section, and is probably the only portion left of the old arcade, though it is uncertain whether it is in its original position. If it is, then it would seem reasonable to suppose that the nave extended further west; but it is more likely that the old arcade was taken down entirely and set out anew, beginning from the east end, where a respond was erected. The detail of the capitals of the respond and two octagonal columns is very rude, and might be of almost any date, consisting of a series of square members of various sizes. New windows were introduced in different parts of the building in the 14th and 15th centuries, and the timber porch apparently belongs to the latter period. In 1682 a chancel screen surmounted by the royal arms was erected, and the old ieating probably dated from about the same time. Some interior improvements were effected in 1872, but the church was not restored till 1879–80, when the chancel was rebuilt, the whole of the walls cleared of stucco, the nave floor lowered and the roof opened out. The plaster was also removed from the walls inside and the porch was raised so as to show the tympanum of the north doorway. The chancel screen was at the same time removed, its condition having become very dilapidated, and new oak seats were inserted in the nave, some of the old woodwork being worked up into the backs. The tower was restored in 1897 and about 11 ft. of the spire rebuilt, and the chapel was restored in 1908.
The church throughout is built of rubble masonry and the roofs are eaved and covered with modern red tiles. The chancel roof is lower than that of the nave, and the east window is modern and of three cinquefoiled lights under a straight-sided arch, probably a copy of a former window inserted in the 15th century. Two 12th-century windows on the north side were replaced stone for stone in their original positions when the chancel was rebuilt. They are of the usual type, with wide internal splays and heads in one stone without labels. The openings are 17 in. by 8 in. and the glass is nearly flush with the wall outside. On the south side is a square-headed window of two cinquefoiled lights and a priest's doorway, both copies of 15th-century insertions. The chancel contains no traces of mediaeval ritual arrangements, and the arch, which is pointed and of two chamfered orders dying into the wall at the springing, may have replaced the original Norman one in the first half of the 14th century. It has, however, no architectural features, the jambs being square and quite plain. The altar rails have flat pierced oak balusters, and the rail bears the inscription 'R 'H: S' B' 1684 | Robert Archer Minister | J' B: W' B 1683.' The doorway to the rood-loft remains in the east respond of the nave arcade, visible only from the chapel.
The original north and south doorways of the nave remain, the latter having been re-erected in its present position when the aisle was added; both are interesting examples of 12th-century work with semicircular heads and stone tympana. The arch of the north doorway consists of a single order springing from angle shafts with moulded bases and scalloped capitals. It is carved with a rich zigzag ornament and has a hood mould of plainer type. The sculptured tympanum, on which is a representation of the Agnus Dei, has been already described. The south doorway, which was restored in 1880, is of similar type, but the tympanum is quite plain and the opening is of greater size. A carved head has been inserted at a later time as the keystone of the arch. The nave has three windows of different dates on the north side, that nearest the east end being a trefoiled lancet with external hood mould and low transom, forming a lychnoscope. The middle window is of three trefoiled lights with perpendicular tracery under a straight-sided fourcentred head, but the mullions and tracery are new. On either side of it internally is a niche of the same period high up in the wall with bracket and elaborate traceried canopy. The window west of the doorway is a late 13th-century opening of three trefoiled lights within a pointed arch, but without label.
The arcade, as already mentioned, consists of three low pointed arches of two chamfered orders without hood moulds, and a portion of a fourth at the west end dying into the wall one voussoir beyond the crown. The two eastern piers are octagonal in section, and the east respond is of similar type with a 4 ft. length of straight wall. The western pier is circular, and all the bases and capitals follow the respective sections of the shafts, but with certain exceptions the details are of a rather nondescript character. The base of the first and the capital and base of the third or circular pier are of early 13thcentury type, though the circular capital has the appearance of a base reversed.
The aisle has a wide single lancet at the west end and a pointed three-light window of 15th-century date to the east of the doorway. It is separated from the chapel by a pointed arch similar to those of the arcade springing on the south side from an octagonal respond. The chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and has an original east window of two trefoiled lancets with separate external hood moulds. The south window is later and of three trefoiled lights with the mullions crossing in the head. In the east wall is a 13th-century piscina with acutely pointed head. The walls of the chapel, like those of the chancel and nave, are externally without buttress or any architectural feature, and the roof is hipped. Habington notes a 'raysed monument over the body of Mr. Gouldinge without arms or inscription' in the chapel, but this, together with some ancient glass, has disappeared.
The tower has diagonal buttresses of three stages on the west side and a moulded plinth, and terminates in an embattled parapet. There is a projecting vice in the south-east corner, and the west window is of three trefoiled lights with perpendicular tracery. The belfry windows, which consist of a single trefoiled opening, and the parapet have been largely renewed. There is a string at the belfry level, but the lower stages of the tower are unmarked externally. The north-west buttress has a niche in its lower stage with moulded and crocketed canopy, and there is also a plain ogee-headed niche in the south-west buttress. The lofty tower arch is of two chamfered orders, both carried down to the ground on the nave side, but dying into the wall on the west. The spire is octagonal with plain angles.
The font now in use is of late date and consists of an octagonal stone bowl carved with acanthus foliage. It stands on an older moulded base. In the chapel is the mutilated bowl of a 15th-century font, and also a circular stone font of 18th-century date on a tall pedestal.
There is a ring of six bells. The tenor and two others were recast by Llewellins & James of Bristol in 1896, in which year all the bells were rehung. Of the three old bells two are by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester, 1695, and the third was recast by John Rudhall in 1795.
The plate consists of a chalice of 1821 with domeshaped cover, inscribed 'The gift of the Rev. Charles Crewe Vicar of Longdon to the Church of Castle Morton, 4 January 1822. Jno. Hill, Jno. Dee, Churchwardens'; and a pewter flagon and plate of 1684 inscribed with several initials.
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1558 to 1650, burials 1558 to 1629; (ii) baptisms 1647 to 1669, burials 1648 to 1669, marriages 1651 to 1669; (iii) baptisms 1670 to 1774, burials 1670 to 1783, marriages 1670 to 1753; (iv) baptisms 1774 to 1812, burials 1783 to 1812; (v) marriages 1754 to 1797; (vi) marriages 1797 to 1812.
In the churchyard are the remains of a cross, and there is a yew tree to the south-east of the chancel.
Vision of Britain
Castle Morton still remains as a dependent chapelry in its ecclesiastical status under the mother church of Longdon. In civil matters the parish is quite independent. The church is dedicated to St. Gregory. Here still, Sunday by Sunday, can be heard that which is now becoming rare - the psalms and hymns accompanied by a quartet of stringed instruments. It is not very refined, but sung "lustily and with a good courage:" most of the tunes are taken from " Hymns Ancient and Modern."
Castle Morton Here he will find a church of some antiquity, chiefly of Norman and Early English work, with handsome tower and spire. The church is in need of restoration, and Mr. Withers, a London architect, has estimated the probable expense at £750, a sum rather above the capabilities of the parishioners to raise at once, as they are mostly tenant farmers. It is a tradition here that in the time of the civil wars a party of Parliamentarians besieged some Royalists who had taken refuge in the tower of this church, and having torn up the seats, made such a fire with them that the poor fellows up aloft found it so hot that, after taking off their coats and breeches to stand upon, they nevertheless were speedily smothered.
It is on record that a part of the money for which the leaden steeple, or bell tower, near Worcester Cathedral, was sold, about 1647, was appropriated to the restoration of Castle Morton Church, being at that time burnt.
The church of St. Gregory is a building of stone, in the Norman and later styles, consisting of chancel, nave, south aisle, north porch, chapel and an embattled western tower, with spire, now containing 6 bells: the previous 5 having been refitted, 2 recast and a treble bell added in 1896: there is an Early Norman archway in the porch and an arch of the same date on the south side the church was improved as to its internal fittings in 1872, and was thoroughly restored in 1879 - 80, at a cost of £1,535, under the direction of Mr. Ewan Christian, architect, when the chancel roof was renewed and the north wall rebuilt, two curious little windows being replaced, as originally; the nave floor was also lowered, so as to disclose the previously concealed bases of the columns of the arcades; the whole of the nave was reseated in oak, incorporating the old material; the high chancel screen, dated 1682, has been removed in consequence of its dilapidated condition: the church was reopened in June, 1880, and affords 200 sittings. The register of baptisms and burials commences in the year 1558; marriages, 1651. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £260, including 7 acres of glebe and a cottage, in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, and held since 1881 by the Rev. Edward Carteret Dobree Fox M.A. of Exeter College, Oxford. The great tithes, amounting to about £450, are held by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.
CASTLEMORTON. Wednesday, the usual vestry meeting was held—the vicar, the Rev. C. F. Secretan, attended from the mother church at Longdon, of which Castlemorton ecclesiastically is a dependent chapelry. The parish accounts were duly audited and passed. The vicar then read a report from Mr. Withers, architect, London, upon the state of the church, and which he considered necessary after his inspection, to thoroughly renovate. His total estimate of the work amounted to £750. But, on reading through the several items, many, it was thought, might be dispensed with, and it was considered £500 would effect a very substantial restoration. The vicar offered to head the list whenever it might be proposed with £100 and Mr. R. Lane, for many years churchwarden, said he would follow with £20. The parish re-elected Mr. J. R. Lane churchwarden, and the vicar re-appointed Mr. E Webb.
Published: Wednesday 01 May 1867
Newspaper: Worcestershire Chronicle
The Longdon, Bushley, Queenhill, & Holdfast Parochial Almanac and Year Book for 1881
LAST year's Almanack contained a notice of the beginning of a good work at Castlemorton, in the repair and restoration of its interesting old Church; we have now the satisfaction of recording the completion of that work, under the direction of Mr. Ewan Christian, of Whitehallplace, London, the Architect employed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in all the works they are concerned with of the same kind. In this case the restoration of the Chancel fell on them, as representing the lay rectors, and their architect was employed by the Parishioners upon the rest of it. No doubt the old Church and its time-worn and dilapidated state was well-known to many of our readers ; if they will go and see it now they will be pleased and perhaps astonished at its changed appearance, and inclined to envy the good people of that ancient chapelry the enjoyment of their dignified and venerable House of Prayer. About £l too has been expended on it exclusive of the outlay on the chancel, and it is a pleasant thing to hear that the well-conducted workmen of the builder (Estcourt, of Gloucester — who contracted for and did the work so nicely), have left nothing but remembrance of good conduct and civility behind them. The Church, having been closed during its repair, and the service held in the National School-room, was solemnly re-opened on the 2nd of June ; and the day was made still more interesting to the people of the parish by the presence of their Bishop, who was kind enough to come and preach to them on the occasion. The restoration of the church has been already followed by the separation of the district from the Parish of Longdon, to which it was from the beginning a dependent chapelry; so that Castlemorton now stands as an independent benefice, of which the Rev. E. C. DOBREE Fox will be the first Incumbent.
11 January 1873 Worcester Journal
New Year's Gifts. On New Year's Day the dole of bread, a bequest of one Christopher Winbury, mercer, of Upton-on-Severn, 1687, was distributed to forty poor persons in Castlemorton Church. The new shortened service was first used in the church, and a suitable address given from the pulpit by the Rev. Thomas Wood, chaplain to Sir Edmund Lechmere, Rhydd Court. The Rev. W. Walker, of Hanley Grammar School, read the lessons, and the Rev. A. Wood the prayers. About one hundred and fifty persons were present. The old church of the village presented quite a new appearance on the Christmas ; festival, for, besides the usual and extra decorations, a great improvement has been effected in the church itself by the removal of that most cumbrous contrivance of the last century, commonly known as a " three-decker," for the accommodation of preacher, " reader," and clerk. This was a great disfigurement to the nave, and has been entirely swept away, and two convenient open seats now occupy its place. The pulpit is moved to the left hand side of the chancel arch, and all the pews that had their backs to the chancel are now made to face the pulpit, consequently their occupants are no longer placed so as to stare and be stared at by those facing in an opposite direction. We believe this is the last of the "three- deckers" in this deanery, that at Upton having been removed last year. The proportions of the church can now be seen to greater advantage, and the venerable, blackened oak chancel screen is now stripped of the | unpainted deal panelling which so long has disfigured it.
20 February 1875
THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS THE CHURCH. PREFERMENTS AND APPOINTMENTS. Acworth, William, to be Vicar of South Stoke. Baldwin, Charles; Hector of Topcroft, Norfolk. Barlow, G. H. P.; Rector of Chardstock All Saints’, Dorset. Barnes, George Edward; Rector of Somerton, Oxon. Bartlett, Samuel Edwin ; Perpetual Curate of Kingley. Bellingham, John George ; Rector of Harpley, Norfolk. Bidder, H. J.; Vicar ofFyfleld, Berks. Brewer. H. J., Curate of Alford, Lincolnshire; Perpetual Curate of Langley. Bripg, W. 11. ; Vicar of Oak worth, Keighley, Yorkshire. Browne, Henry Llewelyn: Rector Hampton Poyle, Oxon. Buchanan, John Harry; Curate of Criftins-by-Ellesmere, Salop. Butler, Henry Montagu; Honorary Chaplain her Majesty. Butler, Samuel Johnson ; Rural Dean of Penrith. Caldow, John Affleck: Perpetual Curate Skirwith, Cumberland. Coltman, G.; Prebendary of All Saints’ Thoragatc in Lincoln Cathedral. Connor, George Henry; Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. Crew dson, George; Vicar of St. George’s, Kendal, Westmorland. Davies, J.; Prebendary of Moreton and Whaddon, Hereford Cathedral. Duckworth, Robinson; Canon of Westminster. Edwards, J. W. G.; Chaplain of the Dorset County Hospital, Dorcheste Falkncr, Robert Henry; Rector of Woodham Walter, Essex. Farman. Samuel, jun.; Perpetual Curate of St. Nicholas’, Harwich. Forde, A. F.; Vicar of Wellesboume. Granville, Roger; Vicar of Charlecote. Hollett, G. L.; Rector of Dunkerton. Hamilton, James ; Vicar of ’Melbourne, Cambs. Hervey, S. H. A.; Peipetual Curate of Henton. Howell, D.; Vicar of Wrexham, Denbigh. Hodson, T.; Rector of Patterdalc, Westmorland. Hombersley, William ; Rector of Kirk Ireton, Derbyshire. Joy, Samuel; Minor Canon in Ripon Cathedral. Maitland, Pelham; Rector of Holy Trinity, Birchfield. Masters, J. H.; Chaplain to the High Sheriff of Sussex. Montsarratt, Homy ; Chaplain of the Prison at Kendal. Moon, George; Vicar of St. Jamee-the-Lees, Bethnal-green. Morgan, J. H.; Perpetual Curate of St. Augustine, Honor Oak, Kent. Myles, James Percival; Vicar of St. Matthias, Bristol. Nash, Frederick Gifford; Vicar of Clavering. Pooley, James ; Vicar of Little Milton. Oxon. Porter, John Robinson ; Vicar of Wartling, Sussex. Pott, Alfred; Vicar of Clifton, Hampden, Oxon. Preedy, D. H. C.; Curate of Longdon and Castlemorton. Price, William Henry; Rector of Coin St. Dennis, Gloucestershire. Puttock, William Michael; Vicar of St. Anne’s, Hoxtou. Eadcliffc, A. H. D.; Rector of Holwell, Beds. Rogers, Percy, Rector of Simonburn ; Rural Doan of Bellingham. Samson, Edward ; Perpetual Curate of Brercton, Staffordshire. Shaw, G. A.; Rector of Aston Sandford, Bucks. Shepherd, Charles William; Rector of Trotters cliffe, Kent. Smith, Basket; Vicar of Brauncewell-cum-Anwick. Swaby, W. P.; Perpetual Curate of St. Margaret’s, Castleton, Durham. Thompson, harles Edward ; Peipctual Curate of Kenn. Thwuites, William ; Perpetual Curate of Whittington, Norfolk. Wliyley, E. B.; Vicar of Bringhurst-cum-Great Easton, Leicestershire. Wilson, Robert James ; Vicar of Wolvercot, Oxon. Wollaston, J. T. B.; Chaplain of Montgomery County Prison. Wybergh, Christopher; Rector of Scraymgham with Loppington, Yorkshire. A conference of members of tbe Church of England has been held at the Cannon-street Hotel. Earl Nelson has accepted the office of president of the London Free and Open Church Association for 1875. Archdeacon Bickersteth, Prolocutor of the Lower House of Convocation, has been appointed to Lichfield deanery. We are requested to state that, owing to special circumstances, the performance of Bach’s Passion Music will not take place in Westminster Abbey this year. The Guardian states that the Rev. T. H. Gillam, Mrs. Gillam, and Miss Gillam, on leaving Culham for Weaverham Vicarage, have received valuable testimonials of respect—a large massive silver salver, inkstand, casket, &c. Judgment has been delivered by the Chancellor of the Consistory Court against the Rector of St. Vedast and St. Miohnelle-Querne, who had applied for a faculty to legalise certain alterations he had made in the church, and in favour of the churchwardens, who had applied to have them removed. Notice of appeal to the Arches Court was given. The Church of St. James, Kemiington Park-road, was consecrated, on Tuesday morning, by the Bishop of Winchester. The church is not a new one, but has been restored from a very ruined condition. The Rev. J. Burche Harris is the new Vicar, and has undertaken to raise the money to pay for the alterations from among his 6000 parishioners. The Company appointed for the Revision of the Authorised Version met Westminster on the Bth, and ended their twenty-ninth session yesterday week. The revision was continued as far as Isaiah ix. 1. The Bishop of Llandaif has been compelled his advanced agejand the pressure of his episcopal duties to withdraw from active connection with the company. The benefactions offered to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners during the past year towards providing endowments and parsonages exceeded £330,000. In the recent article which appeared in the Quarterly Review on Chinch progress it was stated that the total amount of the benefactions received by the Commissioners was £1,363,916, and that fresh ones were coming in the rate of £120,000 per annum.
7 May 1881 Illustrated London News
Edward Cartaret Dobree Fox appointed Perpetual Curate of Castlemorton
Parish Registers for Castlemorton
Transcribed by Worcestershire Parish Record Society and available on CD at The Hive.
A churchyard plan with a name index, was compiled in October 2004, by Nigel Buxton Land Surveys, and is available inside the Church Porch. Updated to December 2007 by Alf Beard.