Local history - Madresfield in Worcestershire
Madresfield is a small rural hamlet on the north east boundary of Malvern in Worcestershire. As you approach Madresfield from Newland, just before the road bends to the left you will see a turning on the right taking you to the Madresfield Club. Directly ahead you will see the brick buildings of Bennett's Farm, home to the Madresfield Early Years Centre. There are speed limit signs which are illuminated to slow traffic through the village while children are going to and leaving school.
As you pass through the village you will see Madresfield Parish Church on the left (see photo opposite) and Madresfield C of E Primary School on the right.
The small village shop, containing a sub post office (all now part of a private dwelling), has long closed though the letter box on the wall remains.
One hundred or so yards past the church on the left you will see a turning to Madresfield Court and Home Farm.
Madresfield Court is an historic house dating from Norman times and the ancestral home of the Lygon family who had the title Earl Beauchamp.
Madresfield Working Mens Club has a skittle alley and is available to hire for social functions.
30 Madresfield, WR13 5AH
Tel 01684 573363
The present Madresfield Church of England Primary School building was erected with support from Earl Beauchamp before the church was built in 1867, but no documents have yet been found giving the exact year.
Inset into the brickwork is a stone shield possibly bearing elements of the Lygon coat of arms, but no date, unlike the cottages built a few years later. Do you know its origin?
There are references to a school in the village supported by the 3rd Earl Beauchamp in 1851; John Reginald Pyndar Lygon left a bequest in support of the school when he died on 22nd January 1853.
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 1800s there had also been an 'Industrial school' in the village where less academic poor children were taught basic skills such as sewing and mending. We think this may have been located at what are now the black and white cottages next to Hayswood Farm.
The earliest school logbook still in existence is held at the Worcester Record Office (The Hive) which covers the period 1877 - 1909.
A small income still comes from the Anne Bull charity. We think she was the daughter of Reginald Pyndar (Lygon) of Madresfield Court. Anne Lygon (1652 - 1707) 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 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.
To find out more about the school click to go to the Madresfield School Website
Madresfield Early Years Centre
The Madresfield Early Years Centre is a private nursery school for pre school children with an excellent reputation. Mrs Alice Bennett, the Principal, has won many awards, including the MBE in 2015. To find out more click 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'.
The annual Madresfield Agricultural Show was once a great attraction.
The gardens and maze 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 be purchased in the old playroom.
Madresfield Court, viewed from the east
Visits to view the interior of the house can be made, by appointment only, in the summer. To join a guided tour, or for any other enquiries about Madresfield Court and gardens, or the Beauchamp/Lygon family, please contact,
The Estate Office
Worcestershire WR13 5AH
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 was a gift of Frederick 6th Earl Beauchamp of Madresfield Court and was consecrated on 10th November 1867.
The first church built about 1200 stood close to Madresfield Court. In the 1850s the church was replaced, but the foundations proved inadequate so that church was taken down and the present church erected at a greater distance from the Court.
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 village 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 Childrens' Service for pre-school children and parents is held at 2:15 pm on occasional Mondays in term time, lasting about thirty minutes. Details can be found on the services page of the Guarlford village 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.
A new venture is 'Messy Church' for children and families on occasional Sundays.
Car parking is available in Madresfield Road outside the church and in the side road adjoining Madresfield Club.
A 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 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 here is a brief mention of some of the burials mentioned in the booklet about the church written by historian Cora Weaver; you will also find photographs of some 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 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, devotion 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)
6. Frederick Lygon 6th Earl Beauchamp (1830 - 1891)
7. Rt Hon Mary Catherine Countess Beauchamp (1844 - 1876)
8. Henry Lygon 5th Earl Beauchamp (1829 - 1866)
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.
East end of Madresfield church
The inscription on the memorial to George Munn 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
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 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 instigated 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. He was the brother of Francis.
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 6) 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
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).
Madresfield Court also has a beautifully decorated small private family chapel, which you will see if you tour the house.
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Last updated 15th August 2017