Broadway is an Ancient Parish in the county of Worcestershire.
Parish registers begin: 1539
Nonconformists in Broadway include: Independent/Congregational, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends/Quaker, and Wesleyan Methodist.
Parishes adjacent to Broadway
- Chipping Campden
- Childs Wickham
Broadway The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1851
Broadway, a parish in the upper division of the hund. of Pershore, union of Evesham, county of Worcester; 5½ miles south-east of Evesham. Living, a discharged vicarage in the archd. and dio. of Worcester; valued at £10 17s. 6d.; gross income £212. Patron, in 1835. ___ Bird, Esq. The foundation-stone of a new church was laid here, by Michael Russell, Esq., on 13th August, 1839. The great and small tithes of Broadway manor, the property of the lay-impropriator and vicar, were commuted in 1771. Here is an Independent chapel; the church was formed in 1797. The Roman Catholics have also a chapel here. This parish possesses three daily schools, one of which is endowed with land bequeathed by the late Mr. Hodges, and three Sunday schools. Charities connected with the parish produce £27 per annum. There is a silk-mill here which, in 1838, employed 39 hands. Pop., in 1801, 1,117; in 1831, 1,517. Houses 320. Acres 4,800. A. P. £8,200. Poor rates, in 1837, £550.
Source: The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales; A Fullarton & Co. Glasgow; 1851.
Laird Description of Worcestershire 1814
Leaving Evesham, by the London road, pass through Wickhamford, a cheerful bustling village, after which we come to Broadway, a long and straggling, but very curious place, being built entirely of stone, which gives every house an air of the most pleasing antiquity. This place, properly speaking, is called Broadway Street, the church stands at some distance to the right, and one contained some painted glass, and some monuments of the Sheldons, but these are all in a shattered and dilapidated state. The whole parish bears an air of antiquity, which, to those fond of looking back to ancient times, has a very curious and pleasing effect, particularly as this place, though seemingly unindebted to modern improvement, has yet an air of plenty and comfort, arising from its situation in a good corn district. Clarendon tells us, that after Charles’s retreat from Evesham, the army marched that night to Broadway, where they quartered; and very early the next morning, they mounted the hills near Campden, and then they had time to breathe, and to look with pleasure on the places they had passed though, having now left Waller, and the ill ways he must pass, far enough behind, for even in that season of the year (July), the ways in that vale were very deep.
From this ancient village ascending the Broadway hills, Springhill, a seat belonging to the Earl of Coventry appears upon the right, embosomed in woods; and is an elegant modern building, but unoccupied by the family, and at present advertised to be let. On these bleak and burden hills, most extensive plantations have been made of late years, which at present seem to thrive very well; and being judiciously planted in belts, they will tend much to shelter the lands and improve the temperature; but it is to be apprehended that they will never be very valuable as timber, as the oldest trees now standing on the hills seem much stunted and checked in their growth.
Farnham Abbey, a modern building, but in the Gothic style, erected by Sir John Coterel, Knt. lies on the left, on the brow of the hill, commanding a most delightful prospect to the westward, over Worcestershire. Though its situation was originally bleak and uncomfortable, being on the very summit of the hill, it is now well sheltered by plantations, which have been disposed in a most pleasing style, so as to render it at least an agreeable summer residence. It also forms a good object to the eye, its form being Castellated and well adapted to its site and surrounding scenery. Having been lately the occasional retreat of the late Walsh Porter, it bears evident marks of his taste for improvement. From this point of view, a modern Saxon tower erected in Springhill plantations has a good effect, and must be delightful as a summer evening retreat from the very extensive view it commands. Further on, upon the road-side, is the Fish Public-house, a watering-place for travellers over this dreary range, and which is not only extremely useful but is also an ornament to the scenery, being built in imitation of the antique style. The view from this spot over the vale of Evesham cannot but produce sentiments of rapture in any breast not totally devoid of feeling; the richest verdure and cultivation are disposed at the feet of the spectator, whilst the distant hills fading into every retiring shade of purple seem to carry the sight almost into infinite space.
Source: A Topographical and Historical Description of the County of Worcester, by Mr. Laird. Printed for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, Paternoster Row; and George Cowie and Co. successors to Vernor, Hood, and Sharp, 31, Poultry, London. Printed circa 1814.
Historical description from Wikipedia:
Broadway is an ancient settlement whose origins are uncertain. There is documentary evidence of activity in the area as far back as Mesolithic times. In 2004, the Council for British Archaeology’s Worcestershire Young Archaeologists’ Club found evidence of early occupation. Their fieldwork uncovered a large amount of Roman and medieval domestic waste and, most importantly, a large amount of worked Mesolithic flints, raising the possibility that the site might have been a stopping point for hunter-gatherers. This work makes the known history of the village to be over 5,000 years and so may be evidence of one of the first partially settled sites in the United Kingdom. Broadway has also seen the settlement of the ancient Beaker people (1900 BCE), and later, the Roman occupation. It gained the name Bradsetena Gamere (Broad Village) around the 9th century and underwent a number of changes until the modern spelling ‘Broadway’ became common usage in the 16th century.
Broadway was a domain of the Mercian kings and was vested in the Crown in the person of King Edgar in 967. The first existing documentary evidence of importance is embodied in a charter that King Edgar granted to the Benedictine Monastery of Pershore in 972. In this Anglo-Saxon text, Broadway is called Bradanwege and its boundaries are described in great detail. The complete copy of the charter may be seen in the British Museum (Facsimile Volume III 30).
By the 11th century the village was already well-established and apparently thriving. It is listed in the Domesday Book in Great Domesday folio 175 for Worcestershire as part of the land holdings of the Church of St Mary of Pershore: “The church itself holds Bradeweia. There are 30 hides paying geld. In demesne are 3 ploughs; and a priest and 42 villeins with 20 ploughs. There are 8 slaves. The whole in the time of Edward was worth £12 10s 0d; now £14 10s 0d.”
It continued to prosper, becoming a borough by the 13th century. For Broadway this marked a considerable departure from the entirely peasant community that had existed in former times, though the following two centuries saw it decline in the wake of the Black Death. Its fortunes were revived during the late 16th century after the Dissolution of the Monasteries relieved Pershore Abbey of ownership in 1539. The Crown sold the Manor of Broadway in 1558. There followed three centuries of almost unbroken growth, during which the population increased to about five times its Elizabethan level. As in other Cotswold towns, wealth was based on the wool and cloth trade.
By around 1600 the village had become a busy stagecoach stop on the route from Worcester to London. The village provided all the services that might be needed, including grooms, places of refreshment and extra horses for the steep haul up Fish Hill. As a result, there were once as many as 33 public houses in Broadway compared to the three which exist today.
The road between Evesham and the summit of Fish Hill became a toll-road as a result of legislation dated 1728. Tolls were collected at Turnpike House, which can be found (now renamed Pike Cottage) in the Upper High Street. However, the introduction of the railways in Britain in the mid-19th century reduced the passing trade on which Broadway relied. Travel by stagecoach stopped almost immediately with the opening of the railway in Evesham in 1852.
Stripped of its role of staging post, Broadway became a backwater; a haven of peace and tranquillity. Victorian artists and writers were drawn to the village’s calm and the famous Arts and Crafts movement made its home in the area. The artists and writers to whom Broadway became home included Elgar, John Singer Sargent, Edwin Austin Abbey, J. M. Barrie, Vaughan Williams, William Morris, Mary Anderson and American artist and writer, Francis Davis Millet. In 1912 Millet boarded the RMS “Titanic” in Cherbourg, France, as a first class passenger, heading to Washington via New York. He died in the sinking of the Titanic aged 65 and is commemorated by a memorial at St Eadburgha’s Churchyard, Broadway. In 1932 Millet’s son Jack donated £120 to St Eadburgha’s Church for the construction of lychgates in his father’s memory at the churchyard on Snowshill Road. Broadway is thought (by Sir Steven Runciman (1903–2000), a Cambridge historian who knew Benson well) to have been the model for a fictional Elizabethan village in the Cotswolds, Riseholme, the home of Lucia in the novels of E. F. Benson, before she moved to Tilling (based on Rye in East Sussex).
The arrival of the motor-car at the turn of the 20th century, and the advent of popular tourism, restored Broadway’s vitality, placing it now among the most frequently visited of all Cotswold villages. In 1934 J.B. Priestley published his book English Journey, a travelogue in which he re-visits areas of the Cotswolds, including Broadway. He described the Cotswolds as “the most English and the least spoiled of all our countrysides. The truth is that it has no colour that can be described. Even when the sun is obscured and the light is cold, these walls are still faintly warm and luminous, as if they knew the trick of keeping the lost sunlight of centuries glimmering about them.”
Broadway takes its name from the wide main street. In the beginning the ‘broad way’ probably began as a drove road and may be unusually wide because of the two small streams that used to run each side of the main street; people built on either side of the brooks, and a road formed down the middle. In the winter the mud from the road was piled up, and in the summer grass grew on the piles; these verges still remain today. Water used to flow down from the hills and straight through the village then in later years the streams were mostly hidden inside underground pipes, only emerging at occasional ‘dipping’ points. Nowadays, the streams are almost entirely invisible.
- Broadway Bennett’s Business Directory for Worcestershire, 1914
Family History Links
The following records for Broadway are available free from FamilySearch.
- County: Worcestershire
- Civil Registration District: Evesham
- Probate Court: Court of the Bishop of Worcester (Episcopal Consistory)
- Diocese: Worcester
- Rural Deanery: Evesham
- Poor Law Union: Evesham
- Hundred: Pershore
- Province: Canterbury