They came, they saw, they commented.
'Badsey and Aldington ... attract little attention from modern Guide Book writers.' states the opening paragraph of A Brief History of Badsey and Aldington. Of the few that did pass through here is a summary of what they found.
Dr. Nikolaus Pevsner, the famous architectural historian, notes in his Buildings of England series on Worcestershire (Book published by Penguin Books in 1968) the following places that took his eye.
ST.JAMES. Norman nave. Before the restoration of 1885, the present north window was in the south wall. Jamb of another north window. Norman north doorway. The lintel has a rope-frieze, the arch flat zigzag. Perpendicular ashlar-faced west tower. Decorated chancel. FONT. The stem is early 14th century and has excellent leaf capitals. PULPIT. With linenfold panels. PLATE. Cup, circa 1571. MONUMENTS. Richard Hoby 1617. Two kneelers, facing one another. On the prayer-desk a skull. Kneeling children below (facing west, not east, because her children are from a first husband). Two columns and two flat arches. An hourglass in relief between them. William Jarrett, 1685. White marble tablet in rich surround.
MANOR HOUSE. A sick-house for the monks of Evesham Abbey. It was granted in 1545 to Sir Philip Hoby of Bisham. Late 16th century. Stone below, but above timber-framing with lively lozenge or herringbone patterns. The masonry is probably older.
SEWARD HOUSE. 17th century; stone. Recessed centre and two gabled wings. The windows of the one gable is 17th century, and the other 18th century.
BLAKESMERE. Late Georgian. Ashlar. With two shallow upper bows. [Today two houses - Pool House and the Dower House.]
STONE HOUSE. A beautiful later 17th century stone house with slightly recessed centre and two gables. All windows of the cross type and already of classical proportions. String courses running through instead of hood-moulds. They only survive in the gables.
SILK MILL COTTAGES. Brick, two storeys, ten bays, dated 1864. (The old MILL HOUSE itself is dated 1711. The mill closed about 1845-50.)
ALDINGTON MANOR HOUSE. A fine ashlar-faced early C19 house with a recessed centre filled on the ground floor by a Tuscan porch. Giant pilasters at the angles of the wings.
[In 2007 Yale University Press published a new and much expanded edition of Pevsner's book. For details see below.]
Vivian Bird, travel writer, who regularly appeared in the Sunday Mercury, travelled through Badsey whilst researching a book in a series of Regional Guides to Britain (The Shakespeare Country and the Cotswolds published by Ward Lock Ltd in 1982). Here is what he wrote as he walked to Badsey from Wickhamford, before going onto Bretforton.
.... Make now for Badsey a mile north, its churchyard is dominated by a tall sequoia, its streets and houses suburban but its sixteenth-century manor house lovingly restored as as dwellings. Badsey is so steeped in market gardening that Lisbon House owes its name to Lisbon onions, and the inn after you have turned right onto the B4035 is The Round of Gras, its sign is a bundle of asparagus tips, a cutting knife, and a first prize certificate made out to the landlord, E. L. Mustoe. Row upon tidy row of light green lettuce, dull green sage, misty-green cabbages, even of parsley, accompany you to Bretforton .....
BADSEY. Lying among the orchards in the Vale of Evesham, it has not so great a claim to beauty as its neighbour Wickhamford, but it has a touch of distinction in the manor house with a fine timbered storey under an overhanging roof. It was built by the Hoby family on a site where the monks of Evesham had been coming for recreation and solace for two centuries.
A fine spreading yew shades the churchyard, where we see Norman carved stones in the top of one of the gate posts. The north wall of the nave is also Norman. The tower (with a sculpture gallery of men, women, angels, and animals under the battlements and by the windows) has stood 500 years, its lofty arch reaching the nave's old roof of open timbering. The transept and the south doorway are 14th century; the porch, the north chapel, and the south aisle and its arcade, are all 19th.
A modern arch leads to the 13th and 14th century chancel, which has old panelling on the east wall, old arched beams in the roof, and modern glass glowing richly with figures of the Good Shepherd, Michael, and Gabriel. The linenfold pulpit is 300 years old, and the font is a modern bowl on a 14th-century stem with carved capitals. There is a painting of the Raising of the Widow's Son by Otto Van Veen (a master of Rubens) and a small painting of the Madonna is by Carlo Gignani, who painted a picture for St Peter's in Rome.
On their 17th century canopied wall monument Richard and Margaret Hoby are kneeling at a desk, he in a rich cloak and ruff, she strangely worn, and three children kneel below. A tablet tells us that John Rawlins was vicar for half of the 18th century.
Noake's Guide to Worcestershire printed in 1868 has the following entry. It was kindly sent to us by Brian Jennings who comes from Badsey but now lives in Zimbabwe. Brian especially liked the idea that the sick monks were the models for the gargoyles on the church.
" Badsey, with its hamlet of Aldington, has an acreage of 1,145, and a population of 546. There were 30 families in the time of Elizabeth. The Rev. T.H. Hunt is the perpetual curate, and the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, are patrons. Value of the living, pounds 228; church accommodation, 209; free, 153. The church, dedicated to St. James, was, in the olden time, served by one of the monks of Evesham Abbey; and in this village, it is said, was an infirmary for the retirement of sick monks - a class of men always judicious in their selection of locality. If the medieval masons who carved the gargoyles on the church tower had in view at the time the portraits of these sick monks they could not have succeeded better, the heads being represented as in that state usually experienced by persons when they first go to sea. The church, which has a chancel, nave, north chapel, and western tower, presents Early English and Perpendicular work, with Norman doorway. In the village are substantial old stone houses, with gables and mullioned windows. There are Sunday and day schools, and the Wesleyans have for some years obtained a settlement in the parish - the fruit of former inefficiency in the Church. It is a fact which we churchmen cannot deny, that many of our rural parishes would have relapsed into heathenism ere this had it not been for the efforts of Dissenters"
Gordon Lee noted the following in his 1920's book "A Journey in Candour" (Wodeland Publications, Guildford). The author, on a springtime pilgrimage to the wilds of Worcestershire, had just ascended Willersey Hill, and was heading out of Willersey, on foot, towards Bowers Hill and Badsey.
"I left the quiet village and went along the road at a swinging pace, and very shortly found myself passing through orchard lands, over all of which hung a sea of blossom as far as the eye could reach. Here was the full radiance of Spring, and my heart fairly leapt with joy at the apparition. Set in the midst of this was a village on high ground towards which several knots of labouring men were proceeding, many of them on cycles. This place I discovered to be Badsey; not quite the sort of name one would expect in so enchanting a district. Seeing the church near at hand I entered its cool interior, where a number of women were engaged in floral decoration. They were very intent upon their labour of love, and with the exception of an occasional glance, left me alone to my little exploration of the building. The chief attraction of the village church to me is its epitaphs, and I could scarcely be disappointed with Badsey, seeing it furnished the following memorial to Mr. Somebody-or-other, gent of this Parish:-
He ne'er the heights and depths of science trod,
His only science was to serve his God.
By avarice he never swelled his store,
Content to be the frugal steward of the poor.
To raise his own he sunk no neighbour's fame,
Blameless himself he ne'er apportioned blame.
From swollen pride and vain ambition free
His sole ambition was humility."
[Editor's note: The Mr. Somebody-or-other was Mr. Edward Seward, who died in 1772.]
Victoria History of Worcestershire. Published in 1906, this is not a guide book but a studious history of every village in the county. Here as large pdf files are: Badsey with Aldington and Wickhamford.
The Buildings of England. In 2007 Yale University Press published a new and much expanded edition of Pevsner's Worcestershire. The original edition was published in 1968, and after almost 40 years, the updated version adds much that is new and interesting. The entries for Badsey and Aldington are reproduced below with links to photographs where available. In 1968 our entry was just 277 words, now it is 914 words. [Comments in square brackets are by the website editor.] Worcestershire by Alan Brooks and Nicholas Pevsner, Yale University Press, 2007, ISBN 9780300112986.
BADSEY. Large village at the centre of the Vale of Evesham market gardening district.
ST JAMES. A possession of Evesham Abbey until the Dissolution. Of the Norman nave only the N wall remains, largely rebuilt in 1885; the present N window was formerly in the S wall. The jamb of another N window is visible inside. Norman N doorway: lintel with rope frieze, arch with incised zigzag. (Other Norman fragments are built into a gatepier of the SW churchyard extension, towards Chapel Street). Handsome Perp W tower of c.1450, ashlar-faced, with battlements with lively gargoyles and crocketed pinnacles; lofty tower arch, continuously double-hollow-chamfered. Early C14 chancel and N transept, the detail of the former slightly later (with ogee tracery forms); the rounded head of the E window must be the result of repairs after the gable collapsed in 1653. Competent restoration of 1884-5 by T.G. Jackson; he added the Dec-style S aisle and porch, also a N vestry. Neat four-bay arcade with octagonal piers. His also the chancel arch.
FONT. Plain bowl of 1885, good early C14 octagonal stem: attached shafts with excellent leaf capitals.
PULPIT with linenfold panels of c.1529.
COMMUNION RAILS. 1730, with fluted balusters. Matching ALTAR TABLE.
STALLS by Jackson, his pews altered in 1931.
SOUTH DOOR. Probably C14, re-set with its simple doorway in 1885.
PAINTING. The Raising of the Widow's Son, early C17 Flemish, said to be by Rubens's master, Otto Venius (or van Veen).
ROYAL ARMS. George II.
STAINED GLASS. Minor C15 fragments in the W window. N transept N, good early work by Frederick Preedy, 1854. Two by James Powell & Sons: chancel E 1902, SE 1923.
MONUMENTS. Richard Hoby (died 1617) and his wife Margaret (died 1625); quite large, in poor condition. They face each other across a prayer-desk, on which are two bibles (and formerly a skull); above, an hourglass in relief. Kneeling children (originally three), facing W, not E, as they are issue of her former husband. Flat canopy, with obelisks and heraldry, on fluted columns. Possibly by Samuel Baldwin.
William Jarrett. Good cartouche of 1685, attributed to William Stanton (GF); white marble, rich surround.
Two stone tablets in the N transept: Edward Seward (died 1772), with urn; Rev. John Rawlins (died 1784), by W Laughton of Pershore, with obelisk.
War memorial tablet by W.E. Ellery Anderson, 1920.
Simple churchyard cross by T.G. Jackson, 1910. To High Street, a Gothic stone wall and gatepiers of 1872.
Several good houses survive in HIGH STREET. First, NW of the church, Nos. 23 - 25, [Pool House and Dower House, earlier Blakesmere] originally one house of c.1800. Brick, four bays, the outer ones with shallow two-storey bows; flat door-hood on consoles. Opposite, No. 26, [The Laurels] early C18, altered in the early C19. Then SEWARD HOUSE (No. 24), C17, stone, 1 + 3 + 2 bays: recessed centre and gabled wings. The windows of the S wing are C17, with concave-moulded mullions, of the N wing mid-C18, with stone architraves and keystones. Centre altered in the early C19.
Further N, No. 18, [Schumachs] C17, with central gable and other alterations of 1857, faces No. 11, [Meadway House, earlier Vine Lodge] late C18 brick, with the rusticated lintels typical of the district. Other Georgian houses then form a group [e.g. Harrington House, Oakleigh House] with the striking late C16 MANOR HOUSE, [Nos. 4 - 6] on the site of the Seyne House, an early C14 rest house of Evesham Abbey, granted in 1545 to Sir Philip Hoby of Bisham (Berkshire). Lias rubble below, perhaps incorporating earlier masonry; above, elaborate timber framing with lively lozenge or diamond patterns, plus S-scrolls. Three renewed oriels; hipped roof above pronounced coving. U-plan, with longer S wing; the infilled archway suggests a former courtyard house, N wing with large chimney-breast with three diagonal brick stacks. Restored c.1946.
In High Street, S of the church, one house stands out: BADSEY HALL, No. 42 (formerly Stone House), of beautiful late C17 ashlar. 1 + 5 + 1 bays, the slightly recessed centre flanked by gables with ball finials. Windows (apart from some small round-headed ones) of cross type, already of classical proportions; mostly continuous string courses. The rear, with the entrance, is undistinguished. apart from the huge chimney of the S cross-wing. Staircase with splat balusters at the rear of the N wing.
From the S end of High Street, SCHOOL LANE leads E to the Board School of 1894 - 5, by E.H. Lingen Barker; red brick, gabled, with sparse yellow bands; very large windows. Additions of 1958. MILL LANE, with some C17 timber-framed cottages, leads SW to the former SILK MILL, dated 1864. Brick, two storeys and ten bays, the central four under a pedimental gable; segment-headed windows.
ALDINGTON. Fine ashlar-faced MANOR HOUSE of c.1830, of 2 + 1 + 2 bays, the recessed centre filled on the ground floor by a Tuscan porch, its parapet with a ball finial; wings with plain giant angle pilasters. Shallow hipped slate roof. The lower, stuccoed, three-bay Manor Court adjoining, N, was presumably the earlier manor house, downgraded to a service wing for its successor.
At the rear, a nine-bay C17 BARN, coursed rubble, with three half-hipped wagon porches to the N, visible from Mill Lane.
Attractive group of houses by the manor house. CORNER COTTAGES, NW, is gabled Tudor Gothic of c.1840, with an attached former forge. To the S, a nice mixed group: early C19 white-painted brick with bargeboards; a late C17 timber-framed and thatched cottage; the early C18 brick OLD HOUSE, with stone quoins; and an L-shaped one with C17 N wing with mullioned windows, dated 1686.
[For more historical detail see the pages for individual roads and streets in the parish.]