Hanbury in 1817


Description from A Topographical History of Staffordshire by William Pitt (1817)


Hanbury. This village is situated to the north of Needwood Forest, upon a hill that commands an extensive prospect of the meadows on the banks of the Dove, the Moorlands, and Peak-Hills. From its bleak situation it is cold in winter, but delightful in summer.

Hanbury is a place of great antiquity. In the year 680 the Saxon princess St. Werburgh, remarkable for her piety, became Abbess of a nunnery, founded here by her brother Ethelred, King of Mercia. She was buried in this nunnery; and in the year 875 her bones were removed to Chester, where an elegant shrine was erected to her memory. No vestige of the nunnery is now visible; but it doubtless stood to the east of the present church, human bones having been frequently dug up in the ground now occupied by Mr. Hunt's garden, and in an adjacent gravel-pit.

A family, who took their name from the place, were lords of this manor at a very early period. At present, it belongs to the Villiers family, who appoint a game-keeper, and claim common rights on Needwood Forest. The manor-house commands a most extensive prospect.

Hanbury Church is an ancient stone edifice, with a square tower; it stands on the edge of a steep declivity, and was formerly a rectory, but is now a vicarage in the deanery of Tamworth. It is dedicated to St. Werburgh, and was founded long before the Conquest. The presentation is vested in the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry.

In the year 1793 the Rev. Hugh Bailye pulled down the old vicarage-house, and built a new one on the opposite side of the church, which commands a charming and extensive prospect.

Extract from the Parish Register.-" On Sunday 14th September, 1777, about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, a smart shock of an earthquake was felt in several places of this neighbourhood (but not in the village.) In some places indeed, particularly Cheshire, and Lancashire, it was so violent, that the people fled out of the churches in great terror." .

Felde, or Faulde, is a hamlet in this parish, about half way between Hanbury and Tutbury, and situated on a fine natural terrace above the meadows of the Dove. This hamlet was recorded, by mistake, in Doomsday-book for Hanbury. In the year 1792, the manor of Faulde was purchased by Mr. Thomas Hunt, of Castle Hay. The old hall is now inhabited by a son-in-law of the present Lord of the Manor.

Coton-under-Needwood is another small hamlet in the parish of Hanbury: it belongs to Charles Bowyer Adderley, Esq. The ancient hall was pulled down, and the present commodious mansion built on its site in 1790, with suitable offices, and extensive and picturesque gardens and pleasure-grounds. English hospitality prevailed here some years ago, when the social friends Messrs. Adderley and Scott made it their residence. In the summer months they pitched a tent upon a circular hill above Coton, where a flag was hoisted, when they were at home, as a signal to their friends:

"O mark upon yon round ascent The social flag and open tent, Where life's smooth paths with flow'rs are strown, And mirth makes every hour its own." The flag-staff was struck in the year 1796.

Draycot-under-Needwood was another of the manors comprised in the gift of William the Conqueror to Henry de Ferrers. It is recorded in Doomsday-book in the following terms: '' The said Henry holds Draicote, which contains half a hide. The arable land is one carucate in demesne, and four villans, and four bordars, have two carucates. There are 12 acres of meadow, a wood half a mile in length, and the same in breadth. The whole being valued at fifteen shillings."

This manor has for ages been in the possession of the ancient family of Vernon, who came originally from a town of that name in Normandy. The present possessor is Lord Vernon. In the meadow beyond Draycot Mills are the ruins of an old mansion, encompassed by a moat, with a small drawbridge on the eastern side. This was doubtless the manor-house, or residence of the ancient proprietors. There are several extensive and extremely fertile meadows in the vicinity of Draycot: the turnpike-road from Lichfield to Sudbury passes through this manor.