Geographical and Historical information from the year 1831.
"HALES OWEN, a parish comprising the market town of Hales Owen, in the Hales Owen division of the hundred of BRIMSTREE, a detached portion of the county of SALOP, and the chapelry of Cradley, and the hamlets of Luttley and Warley Wigorn, in the lower division of the hundred of HALFSHIRE, county of WORCESTER, and containing 10,946 inhabitants, of which number, 8817 are in that part of the parish which is in the county of Salop, and 1759 in the town of Hales- Owen, 35 miles (S.E.)-from Shrewsbury, and 120 (N.W,) from London. This place is said to have been formerly a borough, though it does not appear to have ever returned members to parliament. King John, in the sixteenth year of his reign, gave the manor and the advowson of the church, which is stated to have been built prior to the Norman Conquest, to Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester, who founded here a priory of Premonstratensian canons, which, from parts of the walls yet remaining, though concealed by brambles and weeds, appears to have been an extensive edifice, and from the gable end of the chapter-house, in which are some fine lancet windows, to have been in the early style of English architecture. At the dissolution, its revenue was estimated at £337. 15. 6.; some vestiges of the abbot's kitchen are still visible in a farm-house near the town. Hales Owen is more celebrated for having been the birthplace and residence of the poet Shenstone, than for any events of historical interest. The town is situated in a fertile vale watered by the river Stour which has its source in the neighbouring hills, and surrounded with scenery of a varied and pleasing character. It consists principally of one street, in which are some respectable houses, and of some smaller streets containing humbler dwellings irregularly built. In the vicinity are several detached mansions, of which the Leasowesthe patrimonial estate and residence of Shenstone, has been deservedly eulogized for the classic taste and elegant chasteness of style with which, during his lifetime the natural beauty of the grounds had been artificially heightened and improved. The principal -branches of manufacture in the town are, nails, and some few articles of iron. The manufacture of steel is extensively carried on at Corngreaves, and some coal mines have been recently opened in the parish. The small river Stour runs through the town, and the Netherton canal passes within half a mile of it. The market is on Monday, but is indifferently attended; the fairs are on the Mondays in Easter and Whitsun weeks. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates; and a high and low bailiff, constable, and headborough, are annually appointed at the court leet of the lord of the manor. A court of requests is held every third week, under an act passed in the 47th of George III., for the recovery of debts under £ 5, the jurisdiction of which extends over the parishes of Hales Owen, Rowley Regis, Tipton, West Bromwich, Harborne, and the manor of Bradley, in the parish of Wolverhampton, in the counr ties of Worcester, Salop, and Stafford.; The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Worcester, rated in the king's books at £15. 8. 11., and in the patronage of Lord Lyttelton. The church, dedicated to St. Mary and St. John the Evangelist, is a spacious structure in the Norman style of architecture, with later insertions, having a tower surmounted by a lofty spire; the interior conr tains a handsome monument to the memory of Major Halliday, and an urn to that of the poet Shenstone, who was buried in the church-yard in 1763. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyan Methodists. The free grammar school was founded under a commission for charitable uses, in 1652, and endowed with lands and tenements bequeathed by various benefactors to the parish, now producing more than £ 100 per ann., of which, £30 is paid to the usher, and the remainder to the master, who has also the school-house, with a good garden and six acres of land; there are about forty boys, who are now instructed in English grammar, writing, and arithmetic. Shenstone received the rudiments of his education in this school. At Honington, in this parish, a free school was founded, in 1684, by William Smith, and endowed with lands producing about £15 per annum, for the education of twenty poor children. Dr. Adam Littleton, author of a Latin Dictionary and other works, who died in 1694; and William Caslon, the celebrated type-founder, who died in 1766; were born in this parish."
"KENELM (ST.), a chapelry in the parish of HALES OWEN, Hales Owen division of the hundred of BRIMSTREE, county of SALOP, though locally in the lower division of the hundred of Halfshire, county of Worcester, 2 miles (S. W. by S.) from Hales Owen, with which the population is returned. The living is a curacy with the rectory of Hagley, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Worcester."