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Brewood

"Brewood is a small and very ancient town, with several good streets, pleasantly situated about two miles W of Four-Ashes Railway Station, seven and a half miles NNW of Wolverhampton and eleven miles SSW of Stafford. The Birmingham & Liverpool Canal passes through it, and has commodious wharfs and warehouses in the town, and at Chillington. The Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal skirts the east side of the parish, near Somerford and Four-Ashes Station. The old Roman road, called Watling Street, bounds the parish on the north, and is here in good preservation. The small River Penk flows northward through the heart of the parish, and receives here several tributary streams. Its market, formerly held on Friday, has entirely declined, owing to the rapidly growing influence of its gigantic neighbour, Wolverhampton. A charter for a market at Brewood was granted by Henry III, in 1221, to William de Cornhull, then Bishop of Lichfield & Coventry and it was confirmed by another royal charter in the 13th of Richard II. The town still has two annual fairs for cattle, swine, pedlery, etc on the second Thursday in May, and on September 19th. The parish contains about 12000 acres, of which 6718 are arable, 4040 pasturage, and 1090 woods, etc. It is divided into eight liberties which include the hamlets, etc, of Bishop's Wood, Chillington, Coven, Engleton, Hatton & Gunstone, Horsebrook, Kiddermore-Green, and Somerford. TW Giffard, Esq, lord of the manors of Brewood and Chillington, and George Monckton, Esq, lord of the manors of Coven and Somerford, own most of the parish.
Bishop's Wood, about three miles W by N of Brewood, adjoins Shropshire, and was till recently an open common, belonging to Mr Giffard's manor of Brewood, but is now enclosed. Many cottages, originally built on encroachments on the waste, still remain.
Chillington liberty, six miles NW of Wolverhampton, and two miles SW of Brewood, includes five farms, and Chillington Hall, the handsome seat of Thomas William Giffard, Esq, standing on an elevated site, in an extensive and beautiful park. The Giffards have been seated here since the reign of Henry II, and the family still adheres to the tenets of the Church of Rome. Until recently, their tenents were nearly all Romanists, but the present Mr Giffard has adopted liberal views, and now has only three or four tenents of the Romish persuasion. He married a Protestant lady, and has three daughters bought up in the faith of the Church of England. Boscobel, where Charles II was concealed after the battle of Worcester, is close to Chillington, though in Shropshire, and formerly belonged to the Giffards, who rendered considerable service to the unfortunate king, during his concealment in this neighbourhood.
Coven is a large liberty, with a considerable village, two miles SE of Brewood, and five miles N of Wolverhampton. It comprises 1750 acres, and 650 inhabitants. Some of its inhabitants are locksmiths, and there is an iron foundry in the village.
Engleton is a small estate, with a corn mill, one and a half miles NE of Brewood, and was formerly the seat of the Moretons.
Hatton and Gunstone are adjoining hamlets, containing four farms and a few cottages, two miles S of Brewood, and near them are the farms of Hyde, Woolley, and Park Lanes.
Horsebrook is a small hamlet near the Roman road, one mile N of Brewood.
Kiddermoor Green (a corruption of Kerri-Moor) is a hamlet of scattered houses, one and a half miles W of Brewood.
Somerford, from one to two miles E of Brewood, is a large estate, consisting of a number of farms, and Somerford Hall, on the River Penk, the elegant seat of George Monckton, Esq. This estate was nearly stripped of its sylvan ornaments by its former possessors, but the late Edward Monckton, father of the present owner, improved its general appearance, by extensive plantations. The Moncktons are a younger branch of the family of Viscount Galway in Ireland."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

Bibliography

'Brewood. Some Notes on the History of Brewood in Staffordshire...'
by David Horovitz.
Published 1992 (2nd Ed), by David Horovitz, Brewood.

'Brewood & Penkridge in Old Photographs'
by Adrienne Whitehouse.
Published 1988, by Sutton, Gloucester.

'A History of Brewood'
by MW Greenslade & Margaret Midgley.
Published 1981, by Staffordshire County Library, Stafford.

'Notes & Collections Relating to Brewood, Staffordshire (with Genealogical Tables)'
by James Hicks Smith.
Published 1858, by William Parke, Wolverhampton.
Re-issued 1860 with additional material & supplement.

'Brewood: Additions & Emendations to "Notes & Collections"'
by James Hicks Smith.
Published 1864, by William Parke, Wolverhampton.

'Brewood Chancel. An Account of the Tombs of the Giffords"'
by James Hicks Smith.
Published 1870, Wolverhampton.

'Brewood Grammar School and the Old Grammar Schools'
by Charles Dunkley.
Published 1936, by D McGill, Cannock.

'Ancient Brewood'
by Mary Elizabeth Wakefield.
Published 1932, by Wakefield, Brewood.
Re-printed 1959.

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Census

The population of Brewood parish was as follows:
1831 -- 3799
1841 -- 3641

A surname index of the 1851 census for Brewood parish is included in the 1851 Census Surname Index, Staffordshire Volume 12, Penkridge, published by the Birmingham and Midland SGH.

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Church History

"Brewood Church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, St Mary, is an ancient structure, supposed to have been built in the 12th and 13th centuries, on the site of the original parish church, but it has undergone many alterations and repairs. The handsome tower and spire rise to the height of 156 feet, and the latter is a striking feature in the landscape, viewed from any situation around Brewood. The slender and graceful lancet windows of the chancel indicate the period of its erection to have been between 1150 and 1250, but the east window is a modern and inappropriate insertion. The nave and aisles, and the tower at the west end, appear to have been built about 1500, but the windows have been robbed of their ornamental work. In the chancel are some very fine alter tombs of the Giffards, and some elegant modern mural tablets of the Moncktons. Against the south pillar, between the nave and chancel, is a remarkable monument to one of the Moretons, formerly of Engleton, and ancestors of the Earl of Ducie, who has lately caused this curious specimen of the monumental taste of the 17th century to be carefully restored. The benefice is a vicarage, with the curacy of Bishop's Wood attached to it, in the patronage of the Dean of Lichfield, and incumbency of the Rev Alex Bunn Haden, MA.
The churches at Coven and Bishop's Wood are small neat fabrics, which have been erected during the last few years, for the divisions of this large parish. That at Bishop's Wood is a fine specimen of the Early English style, consisting of a nave, chancel and transept, with a light well-proportioned tower and spire at its south-west corner. It is in a lofty position, near the extreme north-western corner of the parish.
The Independents have a Chapel in the town, and the Wesleyans have one at Coven.
Brewood Roman Catholic Church, St Mary, is a handsome structure, built in 1840 under the direction of the celebrated Pugin. It comprises a nave, aisles, chancel, vestry, and a western tower, crowned by a small spire. Attached to it is a small burial ground, and a residence for the priest, the Rev JF Jones. "
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

Postcard of St Mary's Roman Catholic Church c1940.

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Church Records

Church of England Registers
The parish register of the parish church of St Mary commences in 1562. The original registers for the period 1562-1981 (Bapts), 1562-1989 (Mar) & 1562-1973 (Bur) are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.
Bishops Transcripts, 1618-1859 (with many gaps) are deposited at Lichfield Record Office.
A transcript of the registers of St Mary for the period 1562-1649 (Bapts, Mar & Bur) was published by the Staffordshire Parish Registers Society in 1906, and has been reprinted by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

The original registers of St Paul, Coven, which was a chapelry to St Mary, for the period 1857-1970 (Bapts), 1857-1974 (Mar) & 1857-1912 (Bur) are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.

Nonconformist Registers
The original registers of the Brewood Congregation Chapel covering Births and Baptisms, 1810-1837 are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.
The original registers of Brewood Roman Catholic Church of St Mary from 1844, and the Roman Catholic Chapels at Chillington (1720-1787) and Blackladies (1787-1844) which preceded St Mary are deposited at the Birmingham Diocesan Archive.
A transcript of the registers of Chillington RC Chapel was published by the Staffordshire Parish Register Society in 1959 and has been reprinted by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

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Directories

A transcript of the Brewood section of White's 1834 directory of Staffordshire transcribed by Julie Reynolds.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law etc

The parish became part of Penkridge Union following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. Brewood was in all but name the capital of the Penkridge Union and the workhouse was situated here.

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[Last updated: 30th April 2010, Mike Harbach.  © 1998 - 2010]