Worcestershire is reckoned among the middle counties of England: and is bounded on the north by Staffordshire, on the north-west by Shropshire, on the west by Herefordshire, on the east and north-east by Warwickshire, and on the south by the county of Gloucester. The shape of this county is extremely irregular, having upon almost every side small portions detached and insulated by the adjoining counties; and the boundaries form numberless indentures, resembling bays, promontories and penisulas. The principal detached districts are those locally situate in the counties of Gloucester, Warwick and Stafford, the latter county surrounding the town of Dudley, Worcestershire. Without taking into account such separated portions, the length of the county, from about Stourbridge, Worcestershire on the north to Bredon, Worcestershire on the south, is thirty miles; and in breadth from east to west, at its widest part, is about twenty-eight miles. From the numerous abrupt angles which present themselves on the borders of this county, some difficulty has arisen in computing its circumference; it may, however, be stated at two hundred and fifty miles including the projecting points, and exclusive of them at about one hundred and twenty-five: the area of the county is stated by Government to comprise 729 square miles, – which, it is presumed, does not take in those parts before referred to as situated in other counties.
Source: Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.
Is reckoned among the middle counties of England and is bounded on the north by Staffordshire, on the north-west by Shropshire, on the west by Herefordshire, on the east and north-east by Warwickshire, and on the south and south-east by Gloucestershire. The shape of this county is extremely irregular, having upon almost every side small portions either detached or insulated by adjoining counties; and the boundaries form numberless indentures, resembling bays, promontories and peninsulas. The principal detached districts are those situated in the counties of Gloucester Warwick and Stafford, the latter county surrounding the town of Dudley. Without taking into account such separated portions, the length of the county, from about Stourbridge, on the north, to Tewkesbury (a border town in Gloucestershire), on the south, is thirty miles; and in breadth, from east to west, at its widest part, it is about twenty-eight. From the numerous abrupt angles which present themselves on its borders, some difficulty has arisen in computing its circumference: it may, however, be stated at two hundred and fifty miles, including the projecting points, and, exclusive of them, at about one hundred and twenty-five. The area of the county is stated, by government, to comprise 729 square miles, or 466,560 statute acres – but which, it is presumed, does not include those parts before referred to as lying in other counties. In Size Worcestershire ranks as the thirty-fourth English county, and in population as the twenty-fifth.
NAME and ANCIENT HISTORY – The name of this county has its origin from that of its city, Worcester – (which see.) Antecedent to the invasion of this country by Caesar, and under the dominion of his successors, Worcestershire was inhabited by the Cornavii, and by the Romans was comprised in the province of Flavia Caesariensis: during the Heptarchy it belonged to Mercia, when it was the frequent scene of sanguinary contests between the Saxons and the Danes. In 1016 the Danish forces under Canute were defeated with great slaughter by Edmund lronside, near Blockley. The ancient city of Worcester was possessed by the Britons and Romans before the arrival of the Saxons; the original cathedral was established in 680. One of the most remarkable battles recorded in English annals was fought in the Vale of Evesham, in the year 1265, between Simon de Montford, Earl of Leicester, and Prince Edward, afterwards Edward 1, in which the Earl and most of his adherents were slain. Evesham in the days of monastic grandeur, was celebrated for its abbey, then one of the largest and most stately in the kingdom. The origin of Dudley may be ascribed to Dudo, a famous Saxon warrior, who raised a strong fortress here, upon the site of which now stand the venerable remains of a castle. During the various internal dissensions which have disturbed the tranquillity of England, few events of importance have transpired within the limits of this county of which the city of Worcester has not been largely a partaker. In the civil commotions that marked the reign of Charles I, it was frequently the arena of deadly struggles between the king’s forces and those of the parliament; and the inhabitants, though they suffered severely, continued to the end of the contest zealous supporters of the royal cause, and, after a respite of five years, opened their gates to Charles II, which again involved them in a disastrous war, terminated only by that battle which Cromwell, in describing his success, designated ‘a crowning mercy’ – and, in token of his victory, named a sixty-gun ship, which was soon after launched at Woolwich the ‘Worcester.’
SOIL and CLIMATE, PRODUCE AND MANUFACTURES -The SOIL of this county, though various, is generally rich and fertile, producing grain and fruit in the greatest profusion, and abundant pasturage. Between Worcester and the Vale of Evesham, the soil is composed partly of red marl and partly of a strong loamy clay, the beautiful valley of Evesham consisting of a deep rich earth. On the borders, and in various parts of the Coteswold Hills, limestone predominates, particularly in the more elevated regions, while the lower are covered with a rich loam. From Worcester to the Malvern Hills the surface is clay and gravel: westward, deep clay forms the upper stratum in some parts; in others, a loose stony soil. – The inhabitants of this county enjoy a most salubrious and temperate CLIMATE: the air is mild warm and healthful, there being but few lakes, and very little swampy ground; – circumstances which, conjointly with the beautiful, rich, and picturesque scenery the country furnishes, contribute not a little to induce multitudes of loungers to make the villages of Great and Little Malvern, situate upon the eastern side of the hills here, the temporary theatres of their gaieties.
The principal MANUFACTURES of Worcestershire are seated in its city; they consist in the manufacture of gloves to a great extent, and beautiful porcelain and cabinet ware. In other towns in the county are considerable tanneries, and glass and iron works: many hands are also employed in the combing and spinning of wool, linen weaving, the making of needles, nails, fish-hooks, &c. Kidderminster has long been famed for its carpets, and also for the manufacture of worsted stuffs, and fabrics of silk and worsted. This county is also noted for its fine cider, perry and hops: and excellent salt is obtained from the springs at Droitwich: the antiquity of the manufacture of this article here has been traced prior to the Norman conquest, and at the present day it is its staple trade. At Dudley all kinds of ornamental and cut glass are got up in the most excellent style of workmanship; and the nail trade, in this and the neighbouring parishes, employs a very large population. The iron works for manufacturing various descriptions of heavy hardware are very extensive, particularly at Stourbridge and the villages adjacent. The town of Redditch is almost entirely supported by the needle and fish-hook trade, and in the manufacture of these minute and useful articles numerous persons are occupied.
RIVERS and MINERAL SPRINGS, CANALS and RAILWAYS. – The principal RIVERS of this county are the noble SEVERN, the AVON, the TEME and the STOUR: many streams, of little note, but of no inconsiderable utility to the farmer, water this county, besides the rivers just mentioned, but do not form sufficiently striking features to demand particular description. The Severn enters the county at Bewdley, and, turning nearly south, passes the city of Worcester, and also, further below it, the town of Upton; after which it enters Gloucestershire at Tewkesbury, and thence proceeds onwards to the Bristol channel. The Avon traverses the south-east part of the county, and falls into the Severn at Tewkesbury. The Teme, from the borders of Herefordshire and Shropshire, enters Worcestershire a little below Tenbury, and is lost in the Severn a mile and a half below Worcester. The Stour passes the towns of Stourbridge and Stourport, to which it gives name: on the south side of the latter town it falls into the Severn, which is here joined by the Staffordshire and Worcester canal, where are extensive basins and warehouses; and from these circumstances it is aptly denominated ‘the Port of Worcestershire.’ – The SPRINGS in this county which are said to possess medicinal properties are those of the wells at Malvern, which have acquired a reputation for curing many disorders, and especially for relieving persons suffering from scrofula or scurvy: their efficacy, however, has been (perhaps unjustly) denied by many; and the relief experienced by patients, under different complaints, has been ascribed to the cheering influence of beautiful scenery, pure and bracing air, simple diet, and regular exercise. – The CANALS that pass through Worcestershire, and furnish to its inhabitants the facility of inland navigation, and communication with distant counties, are the Droitwich, the Worcester and Birmingham, the Dudley Extension, and the Staffordshire and Worcester. – The only RAILWAY at present directly connected with this county is the Birmingham and Gloucester, which effects a communication between these two places, and in its route from Gloucester goes through Cheltenham; passes two or three miles to the right or east of Tewkesbury, Upton and Worcester; thence running a short distance to the east of Droitwich and Bromsgrove, it proceeds to Birmingham, at which town it communicates with the London and Birmingham, and the Grand Junction railways.
ECCLESIASTICAL and CIVIL DIVISIONS, and REPRESENTATION. – Worcestershire is in the province of Canterbury and diocess of Worcester (Excepting fifteen parishes and eight chapelries, which are in that of Hereford): it is included in the Oxford circuit of the judges, and divided into the five hundreds of Blakenhurst, Doddingtree, Halfshire, Oswaldslow and Pershore, which are subdivided into one hundred and seventy-one parishes, containing collectively one city and county town (Worcester), and twelve other market towns. The whole county, before the reform bill passed, returned nine members to parliament, namely, two for the city of Worcester, two each for Droitwich and Evesham, one for Bewdley, and two for the shire. The new bill deprived Droitwich of one member, and conferred the elective franchise upon Kidderminster and Dudley, which return one each; and two others have been added to the county – which, in consequence, is now represented by twelve members in parliament, instead of nine, as heretofore. The boundary act divided the county into two parts, respectively called the Eastern Division and the Western Division: the former comprises the divisions of Stourbridge, Dudley, Droitwich, Northfield, Blockley and Pershore; and the western portion includes the divisions of Upton, Worcester, Hundred-House and Kidderminster. The return of members to represent the eastern division of the county is made from Droitwich, and for the western from Worcester. Besides the place of return, the eastern division polls at Pershore, Shipston and Stourbridge; and the western division polls also at Upton, Stourport and Tenbury. The members returned at the general election in 1841, for the eastern division, were John Barneby, Esq., of Breckhampton, county of Hereford, and James Arthur Taylor, Esq., of Moseley Hall, near Birmingham; and for the western division, the Hon. General Beauchamp Lygon, of Spring Hill, in this county (re-elected), and Frederick Wynn Knight, Esq.
POPULATION, &c. – By the census for 1831 this county contained 103,367 males, and 107,989 females – total, 211,356; in 1841, males 114,753, and females 118,731 – total, 233,484: being an increase, since the returns made in 1821, of 49,060 inhabitants; and, from the census of 1801 to that of 1841, the augmentation amounted to 94,151 persons. The total annual value of Real Property in this county, as assessed April, 1815, amounted to about £800,000.
Source: Pigot & Co.’s Royal National and Commercial Directory and Topography of the Counties of Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Rutlandshire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire 1841⁄1842
The soil of this county, though various, is generally rich and fertile; producing grain and fruit in the greatest profusion, and abundant pasturage. Between Worcester and the Vale of Evesham, the soil is composed partly of red marl, and partly of a strong loamy clay, - the beautiful valley of Evesham consisting of a deep rich earth. On the borders, and in the various parts of the Coteswold Hills, lime-stone predominates, particularly in the more elevated regions, while the lower are covered with a rich loam. From Worcester to the Malvern Hills, the surface is clay and gravel; westward, deep clay forms the upper stratum in some parts; in others, a loose stony soil. – The Air of this county is mild, warm and healthy, there being but few lakes, and very little swampy ground. The inhabitants enjoy a most salubrious and temperate climate; a circumstance which, conjointly with the beautiful, rich and picturesque scenery which they furnish, contributes not a little to induce multitudes of loungers to make the villages of Great and Little Malvern, situated upon the eastern side of these hills, the temporary theatres of their gaieties. – The principle Manufactures of this county are seated in its city; they consist in the making of gloves to a great extent, and beautiful porcelain and cabinet ware. In other towns in the county are considerable tanneries, glass and iron works; many hands are also employed in the combing and spinning of wool, linen weaving, the making of needles, nails, fish-hooks, &c. Kidderminster has longed been famed for its carpets, and also for the manufacture of worsted stuffs, and fabrics of silk and worsted. This county is also noted for its fine cider, perry and hops; and beautiful salt is obtained from the springs at Droitwich: the antiquity of the manufacture of this article here can be traced prior to the Norman Conquest, and at the present day it is its staple trade. At Dudley all kinds of ornamental and cut glass are got up in the most elegant style of workmanship. The iron works for manufacturing various descriptions of heavy hardware are very extensive; and the nail trade employs an immense population in Dudley and the neighbouring parishes: the stranger, approaching this district in the evening, is much struck with the innumerable lights seen in every direction issuing from furnaces, forges, collieries, &c.; giving not only to the face of the earth, but to that of the firmament also, an appearance of one universal illumination. The town of Redditch is almost entirely supported by the needle and fish-hook trade; there seldom being fewer than thirty flourishing establishments, employing numerous hands in the manufacture of these minute and useful articles.
Source: Pigot & Co.’s British Atlas comprising the counties of England with additional Maps of England and Wales, and London. 1840.