Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for EVESHAM

EVESHAM, a town, two parishes, a vale, a sub-district, and a district in Worcestershire. The town stands on the river Avon, adjacent to the West Midland railway, 14 miles SE by E of Worcester. It occupies an acclivity, rising from a bend of the Avon; is engirt by that river on all sides except the N; and has pleasant environs of market gardens and orchards. It was known to the Saxons as Eovesham, signifying "the dwelling on a level by a river's side;" yet is sometimes alleged to have derived its name from Eeves, a swineherd, who was fabled to have seen a supernatural vision, which occasioned the founding at it of a mitred Benedictine abbey King Ethelred, in 709, gave a site for the abbey; and Egwin or Ecgwyn, bishop of the Wiccii, laid the foundation of it, and became its first abbot. The church was 300 feet long; had a nave of nine bays, 145 feet by 70, a choir of five bays, a Lady chapel, a transept 110 feet long, a south-eastern sacristy, and a north-eastern apsidal chapel; was surmounted by a central tower; and was adjoined by cloisters and a decagonal chapter-house. It is said to have once possessed 22 towns, and to have maintained 75 monks and 65 servants. It was desecrated in 1265 by a massacre of fugitives in it from the battle of Evesham; but it retained its status till the general dissolution in the time of Henry VIII.; and it then had an income variously stated at £1, 184 and £1, 268, and was given to Philip Hobby, Esq. Henry III. took up his quarters in it; the Earl of Lancaster, and other barons slain in the battle of Evesham, were buried in it; and Henry IV. was entertained in it. Most of the edifice has disappeared; but the arch of its vestibule, built in 1295, still remains; the bell-tower of its cemetery, built in 1533, a beautiful structure of three stories, 110 feet high, 28 feet square, panelled throughout its height, and containing fine canopied windows, also still stands; an oaken chair, of the 14th century, believed to have belonged to its chapter-house, is in the possession of Mr. Rudge; and a portion of its lectern, of marble, of the time of Henry III., with an effigies of Egwin, is in the possession of Mr. Blayney of the Lodge. The battle of Evesham, between the forces of Henry III. under Prince Edward and those of the insurgent barons under the Earl of Leicester, was fought in a contracted field, without any quarter given, and was one of the most remarkable and decisive battles in the English annals. The town was taken by Massey, at the head of the parliamentarian army, in 1644.

The town consists chiefly of four or five regular wide streets, with well-built houses. The town hall is an old structure. The corn exchange was built in 1868; and is fitted to serve also as an assembly-room. The mechanics' institute was built in 1862. A beautiful new stone bridge, constructed at a cost of £14, 000, forms the connexion with Bengeworth; and was preceded by an inconvenient four-arched bridge, partly as old as 1374. A public esplanade, upwards of 400 yards long, adjoins the bridge. A commodious wharf for barges is on the river, which is navigable for vessels of 60 tons, by locks, as high as Stratford; but the wharf had never much trade, -still less since the opening of the railway. All Saints church was built in 1350; is later English; and has a detached bell-tower. St. Lawrence church was formerly in ruins, but was restored, in 1837, at a cost of £2, 514. There are chapels for Baptists, Quakers, Wesleyans, and Unitarians, a public library, a grammar school with £13 from endowment, and other charities, exclusive of those in Bengeworth, with £170. The town has a head post office, ‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and two chief inns. A weekly market is held on Monday; and fairs are held on 2 Feb., the Monday after Easter week, Whit-Monday, the second Monday of Aug., 21 Sept., and the second Monday of Dec. Some industry is carried on in ribbon-making and glove-sewing; but the chief business done is in malting, tanning, market-gardening, and the making of parchment and implements. The town is a seat of sessions and a polling-place, and was once a seat of assizes. It was made a borough by James I.; it sent two members to parliament till 1867, but was then reduced to the sending of one; and it is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 18 councillors; but, as a borough, both parliamentary and municipal, it includes all the two parishes of Evesliam and also the parish of Bengeworth. Constituency in 1868, 372. Real property, £20, 151. Pop., 4, 680. Houses, 967. The town gives the title of Baron to Earl Somers. Cardinal Hugh de Evesham, Hopkins the antiquary, Bernardi the Jacobite, and Bishop J. Watson were natives; and Clementi the pianist, and Mrs. Elstop the Saxon scholar, were residents.

The two parishes are All Saints and St. Lawrence. Acres, with Bengeworth, 2, 150. Real property of All Saints, £7, 284; of St. Lawrence, £6, 147. Pop., 1, 722 and 1, 699. Houses, 344 and 369. The property of both parishes is much subdivided. Abbey Manor is the seat of R. Rudge, Esq. Both All Saints and St. Lawrence are vicarages; and the two form one living in the diocese of Worcester. Value, £208.* Patron, the Lord Chancellor. The vale of Evesham extends along the Avon to the boundary with Gloucestershire; is flanked by the Malvern hills; possesses a rich loamy soil; contains a considerable aggregate of orchards and market gardens; produces heavy crops of wheat; presents, with its flanks, a series of fine landscapes; and is descanted on by Graves in his "Spiritual Quixote. " The sub-district contains the borough of Evesham, the hamlet of Abbots-Lench, and the parishes of Hampton, Norton, Harvington, Church-Lench, Rouse-Lench, Sedgeberrow, Hinton-on-the-Green, Aston-Somerville, and Ashton-under-Hill, -the three last electorally in Gloucester. Acres, 18, 039. Pop., 7, 897. Houses, 1, 635. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Broadway, containing the parishes of Broadway, Wickhamford, Cleeve-Prior, North-Littleton, South Littleton, Badsey, Offenham, Bretforton, Church-Honeybourne-with-Poden, Pebworth, Cow-Honeybourne, Aston-sub-Edge, Weston-sub-Edge, Saintbury, Willersey, and Childs-Wickham, -the seven last electorally in Gloucester. Acres, 46, 609. Poor-rates in 1862, £8, 460. Pop. in 1851, 14, 463; in 1861, 14, 767. Houses, 3, 146. Marriages in 1860, 87; births, 475, -of which 34 were illegitimate; deaths, 238, -of which 71 were at ages under 5 years, and 7 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 946; births, 4, 592: deaths, 2, 741. The places of worship in 1851 were 27 of the Church of England, with 7, 763 sittings; 3 of Independents, with 595 s.; 4 of Baptists, with 1, 165 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 180 s.; 8 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1, 114 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 190 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 100 s. The schools were 24 public day schools, with 1, 243 scholars; 23 private day schools, with 337 s.; 33 Sunday schools, with 2, 024 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 9 s. The workhouse is in Hampton.

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

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Evesham CP       Evesham PLU/RegD       Worcestershire AncC
Place names: EOVESHAM     |     EVESHAM
Place: Evesham

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