KIDDERMINSTER - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868
The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868
"KIDDERMINSTER, a parish, market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, in the hundred of Lower Halfshire, county Worcester, 15 miles N. of Worcester, and 125 N.W. of London. It is a station on the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton railway, which skirts the eastern side of the town. The parish is bounded on the W. by the navigable river Severn, and is intersected by the river Stour and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal. It contains, besides the borough of Kidderminster, including Kidderminster Foreign, with its 15 hamlets beyond the borough, the chapelries of Stourport, or Lower Mitton, and Wribbenhall.
The substratum is sandstone, and the surface hilly, but well cultivated. The town is built on rising ground on the banks of the river Stour, here spanned by a bridge of five arches from which circumstance it is said to derive its name chid, in British signifying a "hill", and dur, "water". It was called by the Saxons Chiderminster, and was originally a royal manor, but was given by Henry II. to the Bassetts, from whom it afterwards passed to the Beauchamps, Nevilles, Cookseys, Blounts, Foleys, and Waller, the poet, and is now the property of the Earl of Dudley.
It returned members to parliament in the reign of Edward I., and was first chartered by Charles I. It is a borough by prescription, and under the Municipal Act of 1835 is divided into three wards, governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors, with the style of "high bailiff and commonalty of the borough of Kidderminster". The municipal revenue is about £1,261, and the population in 1861, 15,399, against 18,462 in 1851, having decreased in the decennial period by 3,063. The boundaries of the municipal and parliamentary boroughs are co-extensive, and were but slightly altered at the passing of the Reform Act, since which time it has returned one member to parliament.
The town, which is well built, contains several good streets, some of the houses being cut into the sandstone rock on which it stands. The principal buildings are - the townhall, a large brick structure with police station and cells for prisoners attached; the public rooms and corn exchange, situated in Vicar-street, a noble block of building completed in 1855, and containing a music hall 90 feet by 45, a corn exchange 60 feet by 35, with several other rooms of smaller dimensions, appropriated to the free library, school of design, newsroom, chess-room, &c. the whole forms a compact and ornamental structure, lit from the roof and sides, and containing a majestic organ, built by Hill, of London, at a cost of £800; besides these may be mentioned the old market-house, which had a cross in Leland's time, assembly rooms, union poorhouse, infirmary, two banks, a savings-hank, and large manufactory for damask silk for upholsterers' uses.
The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in the manufacture of carpets, which was first introduced in 1735. The varieties principally made are Scotch, tapestry, or Venetian, and Brussels, which last are woven by steam-power; also finger-rugs, woollen and worsted goods, silk coverings for buttons, and waistcoat pieces. There are besides iron foundries, malting-houses, breweries, a paper-mill, wire-works, dye-works, brickfields, and tanneries. Kidderminster is the head of a Poor-law Union, embracing eight parishes in Worcestershire, two in Staffordshire, and one in Salop.
It is also the seat of a new County Court, which meets every three weeks, and of a superintendent registry. It gives name to a deanery in the archdeaconry and diocese of Worcester, and the title of baron to the Foleys of Witley Castle. The living is a vicarage* [the asterisk denotes that there is a parsonage and glebe belonging to the living] with the curacy of Trimpley annexed, in the diocese of Worcester, value £900. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a spacious structure, with a square tower supported by massive buttresses, and crowned with decorated battlements and pinnacles, and containing a peal of eight bells. Tho church, which was restored by Egington, has a W. window of painted glass, and several illuminated windows in the chancel. It contains several ancient brasses and effigies: one being of a Crusader; also monuments to the Blount and Cooksey families, and one to the father of Lord Chancellor Somers.
In addition to the parish church there are four district churches - viz: St. George, St. John, Lower Mitton, and Wribbenhall, the livings of all which are perpetual curacies, varying in value from £150 to £300. St. George's is a modern edifice with a lofty end richly ornamented tower, erected by a grant of £16,131 from the parliamentary commissioners, augmented by £2,000 voluntary subscription. The Baptists, Independents, Roman Catholics, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Unitarians have chapels; in the last-named is the celebrated pulpit of Richard Baxter, the Nonconformist minister, who held the living until the period of the Restoration.
The free grammar school, founded in the reign of Charles I., and formerly a chapel, has an income from endowment of £523. There are besides National schools partially endowed, and schools founded by Pearsall and White, also almshouses endowed by Blount, Clare, and Higgins. The parochial charities, including those mentioned above, produce about £1,225 per annum. The parish of Kidderminster is divided into three districts - the borough of Kidderminster, the Foreign of Kidderminster, and the hamlet of Stourport, each having separate churchwardens and overseers, and maintaining their own poor.
Within the parish is Caldwell Tower, the remnant of a castle built in the reign of Henry IV., also traces of a camp at Warsall Hill. Richard de Kidderminster, the literary opponent of Luther, Dr. L. Carpenter, and Knibb, the missionary, were born here. Market days are Thursday and Saturday - the former for corn, meat, fish, &c., the latter for vegetables and provisions. Fairs are held on the last Monday in January, 13th April, 28th May, 20th June, 4th September, and the last Monday in November."
"BLACKBROOK, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster, and hundred of Halfshire, in the county of Worcester, forming part of the west suburbs of Kidderminster."
"BLACKDOWN, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster, hundred of Halfshire, in the county of Worcester, forming part of the suburbs (called the Foreign) of Kidderminster."
"BLACKSHONE, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster, hundred of Halfshire, but extending into the borough, of Bewdley, hundred of Doddingtree, in the county of Worcester, 2 miles from Bewdley. It is situated on the west bank of the river Severn, near the cliffs called Blackstone Rocks, and forms part of the suburbs (called the Foreign) of Kidderminster."
"COMMERTON, (or Comberton), a hamlet in Kidderminster Foreign quarter in the hundred of Lower Halfshire, county Worcester, 2 miles S.E. of Kidderminster.
"DUNCLENT, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster Foreign, in the county of Worcester, close to Kidderminster."
"EYEMORE, a hamlet in the quarter of Kidderminster Foreign, county Worcester, a short distance from the town of Kidderminster."
"FRANCHE, a hamlet in the Foreign division of the borough of Kidderminster, county Worcester, 1 mile N.W. of Kidderminster."
"HABBERLEY, a tything in the parish of Kidderminster-Foreign, county Worcester, 1 mile from Kidderminster."
"HIGH ABBERLEY, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster, and lower division of the hundred of Halfshire, in the county of Worcester, 2½ miles N.W. of Kidderminster, and a short distance from the rivers Stour and Severn.
"HIRCOTT, a hamlet in the parish and borough of Kidderminster, county Worcester, 1 mile N.E. of Kidderminster."
"HOARSTONE, a hamlet in the parish and borough of Kidderminster, hundred of Halfshire, county Worcester, 2 miles from Kidderminster."
"KIDDERMINSTER FOREIGN, a suburb of the borough of Kidderminster, in the parish of Kidderminster, lower division of Halfshire, county Worcester. See Kidderminster."
"LICKHILL, a hamlet in the parish and borough of Kidderminster, lower division of the hundred of Halfshire, county Worcester. It is situated in the foreign of Kidderminster, near the rivers Stour and Severn."
"LOW ABBERLEY, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster, and lower division of the hundred of Halfshire, in the county of Worcester, adjoining High Abberley, 2 miles W. of Kidderminster.
"NETHERTON, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster, county Worcester, near Kidderminster."
"PUXTON, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster, hundred of Lower Halfshire, county Worcester, 1 mile N. of Kidderminster. It is situated in Kidderminster Foreign, beyond the limits of the borough."
"STOURPORT, in the parish of Kidderminster, it is a post and market town and inland port, of considerable trade, in the lower division of Halfshire hundred, and borough of Bewdley, county Worcester, 4 miles S.W. of Kidderminster. It is a station on the Severn Valley branch of the Great Western railway, and is situated near the confluence of the Stoure with the Severn, and at the junction of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal. The Severn is here crossed by an iron bridge of one span of 150 feet.
It is a polling place for the western division of the county, and a petty sessions town. The magistrates sit every fortnight. The town is well built, paved, and lighted with gas. There is a market house, savings bank, police station, young men's literary institute, and a subscription library. There are worsted and carpet manufactories, malting houses, and vinegar works, an iron foundry, a factory for hollow ware, and one of the largest tanneries in the county. There are good wharves and basins for the convenience of the barge traffic, and boatbuilding is carried on extensively.
The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Worcester, value £150. The church is dedicated to St. Michael. There are two National schools for both sexes. The Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists have chapels. Market days are Wednesday and Saturday. Fairs are held on the first Tuesday in April, July, and October, all being toll free."
"TRIMPLEY, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster Foreign, county Worcester, 3 miles N.W. of Kidderminster."
"WANNERTON, a hamlet in the parish of Kidderminster-Foreign, county Worcester, adjoining Kidderminster."
"WRIBBENHALL, a hamlet and ecclesiastical district in the parish of Kidderminster, lower division of Halfshire hundred, county Worcester. It is situated in Kidderminster Foreign, at the bridge and on the left bank of the Severn, immediately opposite Bewdley, of which borough it forms part. It had in 1861 a population of 1,057. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Worcester, and in the patronage of the vicar. There is a National school."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]