Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for KIDDERMINSTER

KIDDERMINSTER, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Worcestershire. The town stands on the river Stour, the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal, and the Wolverhampton, Oxford, and Worcester railway, 7 miles SW of Stourbridge, and 15 N of Worcester. It occupies a rising ground; and was known to the Saxons as Chiderminster., from three words signifying "a hill, " "water, " and "a church." The manor of it belonged anciently to the Crown; was given, by Henry II., to the Bassets; passed to the Beauchamps, the Nevilles, the Cookseys, the Blounts, the Foleys, and others; and belongs now to the Earl of Dudley. An ancient camp is on Warsall Hill, about 3 miles to the NW; and the remnant of a castle of the lords of the manor, built in the time of Henry IV., is at Caldwell, a short way off, on the Stour. The Foleys of Witley Castle took from the town the title of Baron; Richard Baxter was lecturer in the parish church, the vicar having been set aside as incapable; Waller, the poet, was a resident; and Richard de Kidderminster, the literary opponent of the Reformation, Dr. L. Carpenter, and Knibb the missionary, were natives. The town covers a site of both height and hollow; extends nearly a mile in length, and about half-a-mile in breadth; comprises numerous streets, irregularly built, but compact, well-paved, and of respectable appearance; has underground drainage, to protect its lower portions from inundations, to which they formerly were subject; presents, at its entrances from Bewdley and from Stourbridge, a resemblance to Nottingham; includes portions of street-way cut out of the solid rock; and has, of late years, undergone much improvement, by the substitution of new neat houses and excellent shops for old and unsightly buildings. A bridge of five arches spans the Stour. The town hall, in the centre of the market-place, is a large brick structure, with rooms for official purposes, a police station, and prisoners' cells. The public rooms and corn exchange, in Vicar-street, were built in 1853-5; are finely ornamental; and contain a music-hall, 90 feet by 40, -a corn-market, 60 feet by 35, -a news room, - and rooms for a free library, a school of art, and other purposes. The parish church, or St. Mary's, is a spacions edifice, partly decorated English, partly perpendicular; was restored by Johnson; has a noble W window, thirty-eight other windows, and a massive pinnacled tower; and contains brasses, an effigies of a crusader, and monuments of the Cookseys, the Blounts, and the father of Lord Chancellor Somers. St. George's church was built in 1823, at a cost of £18, 131; is in the later English style; has a lofty ornate tower; and contains 2, 000 sittings. St. John's church was built in 1843, at a cost of £4, 000; and is in the Norman style, in crucial form, of dark brick with Bath stone mouldings. There are chapels for Independents, Baptists, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics. The pulpit of Richard Baxter is in the Unitarian chapel, Church street; and the house in which he lived in is High street, and belongs now to W. Hancocks, Esq.. The free grammar school was chartered by Charles I.; is divided into an upper school and a lower one; and has £523 a year from endowment. Other schools, including national ones, have £83, £46, and £8 from endowment; three suites of alms houses have aggregately £64; and other charities have £637. There are also an infirmary and a large workhouse. The town has a head post office, † a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and three chief inns; and is a seat of county courts. A weekly market for general produce is held on Thursday; a weekly market for vegetables, ', on Saturday; and fairs on the last Monday of Jan., 13 April, 28 May, 20 June, 4 Sept., and the last Monday of Nov. The manufacture of carpets was introduced in 1735; was first confined to flat or Scotch carpets, without a pile; was extended in 1749, to cut carpets; has ever since been largely carried on; and is now occupied mainly with Brussels and tapestry carpets; and much of the Brussels ones is woven by steam power. Worsted spinning and dyeing also are largely carried on; and the manufacture of damask silk goods for upholsterers is considerable. There are likewise malt houses, breweries, a paper mill, tan yards, wire works, blue and black lead works, brickfields, iron foundries, and extensive tin plate works. The town is a borough by prescription; was first chartered by Charles I.; and is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. It sent members to parliament in the time of Edward I.; lost its franchise in some way not now known; was re-enfranchised by the reform act; and now sends one member to parliament. Its borough limits are the same parliamentary as municipally; have an extent of about 2 square miles; and include all of what is called the Old Borough, and part of what is called Kidderminster-Foreign. Corporation income, in 1855, £4, 920. Real property of the Old Borough in 1860, £45, 741; of which £1, 103 are in gas works. Amount of property and income tax charged in the entire borough, in 1863, £3, 868. Electors in 1863, 531. Pop. in 1851, 18, 462; in 1861, 15, 399. Houses, 3, 354. Pop. of the Old Borough in 1851, 17, 033; in 1861, 13, 979. Houses, 3, 099. The decrease of pop. arose mainly from the substitution of steam for hand power in wool spinning and carpet weaving. The parish comprises the divisions of Old Borough, Kidderminster-Foreign and Lower Mitton-with-Stourport, each having separate church and chapel wardens and overseers, and maintaining its own poor; extends westward to the Severn; and is cut into two unequal parts by the Stour. Acres, 11, 546. Real property, in 1860, £78, 965, of which £313 were in the canal. Pop. in 1851, 23, 845; in 1861, 20, 870. Houses, 4, 520. Much of the surface is hilly, but most is in good cultivation. Sandstone occurs; and mineral springs are at Round Hill and Burlish Common. The living of St. Mary is a vicarage united with the chapelry of Trimpley, and the livings of St. George and St. John are p. curacies, in the diocese of Worcester. Value of St. M., £900;* of St. G., £300; of St. J., £200.* Patron, of St. M., the Earl of Dudley: of St. G. and St. J., the Vicar of St. Mary. There is a chapel of ease at Trimpley; and the p. curacies of Lower-Mitton and Wribbenhall are separate benefices. The sub-district comprises the Old Borough and Kidderminster-Foreign. Acres, 10, 685. Pop. in 1851, 20, 852; in 1861, 17, 912. Houses, 3, 890.—The district comprehends also the sub-district of Lower Mitton, conterminate with the division of Lower Mitton-with-Stourport; the sub-district of Wolverley, containing the parishes of Wolverley, Churchill, and Broom; the sub-district of Chaddesley-Corbett, containing the parishes of Chaddesley-Corbett, Rushock, and Stone; and the subdistrict of Bewdley, containing the parishes of Ribbesford, Dowles, and Upper Arley, -the second of these parishes electorally in Salop, the third electorally in Stafford. Acres, 37, 321. Poor rates in 1863, £18, 960. Pop. in 1851, 32, 917; in 1861, 30, 307. Houses, 6, 548. Marriages in 1863, 199; births, 1, 041, -of which 58 were ill timate: deaths, 640, -of which 227 were at ages under 5 years, and 28 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2, 458; births, 1 0, 111; deaths, 6, 742. The places of worship, in 1851, were 18 of the Church of England, with 10, 625 sittings; 1 of Independents, with 1, 100 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 670 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 190 s.; 2 of Unitarians, with 550 s.; 8 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 2, 721 s.; 4 of Primitive Methodists, with 455 s.; 1 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 700 s.; and 2 of Roman Catholics, with 395 s. The schools were 34 public day schools, with 3, 458 scholars; 44 private day schools, with 1, 028 s.; 31 Sunday schools, with 4, 169 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 10 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Kidderminster CP/AP       Kidderminster Borough Tn/CP       Kidderminster SubD       Kidderminster PLU/RegD       Worcestershire AncC
Place: Kidderminster

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