A report by Diana Clutterbuck

Dr George Demidowicz, Hon. Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham History faculty, showed research on King Charles I‘s lands for venison and vert in Malvern Chase.  It has been possible to trace areas apportioned to the king (known as The King’s Thirds) through ancient maps and by remains of banks and ditches on the Malvern Hills and neighbouring areas.  These Thirds were worth money to the king when he needed it so were sold off to neighbouring landowners of other parts of the Chase.  The Malvern Hills Trust have published a booklet, A Guide to the 17c banks and ditches of the North Malvern Hills.

Heather Rendall, the Recorder of Wichenford Local Heritage Group, talked about ‘Medieval Farm Settlement Patterns in Wichenford’ in C12th – 16th.  Worcestershire Archaeological Society obtained a Heritage Lottery Grant for six rural communities to dig test pits to find evidence of their earliest inhabitants.  Wichenford was one of these as it has changed very little over the last 1,000 years and farm boundaries of old homesteads can still be traced. Local volunteers worked with archaeologists, finding pottery, soil and crop marks.

Dr Bruce Osborne put forward a case for creating a new National Park to include the Malvern Hills, Teme Valley and Abberley Geopark Way.  As he said, parts are already designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Sites of Specific Scientific Interest.

Lickey Hills Local History Society obtained a Heritage Lottery Grant for research on the Great War Gun Butts on the Lickeys as part of a Centenary Research Project.  Jill Harvey showed how their work had enabled restoration of two gun butts used for testing field guns, a partially demolished munitions store and three brick buildings in the Bilberry Hill Proof Range.  Tours and talks are given, permanent information boards have been set up and teachers’ packs produced.

Robin Whittaker, for many years Worcester Archives Manager and Diocesan Archivist, gave an interesting talk, ‘Place Names and Topography’, and was followed by James Dinn, The City Archivist on ‘Urban Landscapes.

Local Historian Julian Hunt gave us some gems from the Romsley Court Rolls 1270-1643.  The Lord of the Manor was the Abbot of Halesowen until the Lyttelton family bought the manors of Halesowen and Romsley in 1558. Through a bequest, the Romsley & Hunnington History Society were able to engage a historian from Leicester University to translate all the early Court Rolls from the original Latin.  A RHHS working party are indexing them and locating the mediaeval farmsteads within the modern landscape.

Manorial Courts were held by the steward and a jury of twelve male copyholders (their land holding was in the form of a copy of the court roll of the year during which they entered into or inherited their farmsteads).
The Court Rolls contain all land transactions within the manor and many surnames still current in the area.  Fines for misdemeanours are recorded, such as taking timber from the lord’s wood, overstocking the wastes and allowing animals to stray into common arable fields. Also included are fines on local tradesmen who sold ale and foodstuffs below standard measure, fines for marrying without a licence and fornication outside marriage (which seemed to be quite often).

At the close of the AGM the 2019 Photographic Competition Award was made.  The winner of the competition, entitled ‘The Gem of the Building’, was Cora Weaver, with her sculpted boy, which can be seen high up on the old Congregational Sunday School in Angel Street, Worcester (Image 1a & 1b below). Carol Moore was the runner-up.  Her entry featured the 12 century South door of St Peter’s Church, Pedmore.  Its carved tympanum above the door shows Christ surrounded by carved beasts and birds (Image 2a & 2b below).  Carol is a long standing member of Midland Ancestor, Pedmore Branch.

There was only one entry for the Outstanding Achievement Award for Promoting Worcestershire Local History, but no Award was made as it was felt this research was incomplete.