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for the Survey of the Ministry in Herefordshire reported of the vicarage of Weobley and its vicar as follows ::
"A vicaridge worth per annum £40. Mr. Child, vicar, an old man, neyther preacher nor of good life, ye parsonage impropriate to the Bishop of Hereford, worth per annum £100 who is also patron.
Whether Mr. Child was ejected from his vicarage does not appear; but among the non-conformist ministers ejected in 1662, was Mr. Nicholas Billingsley from Weobley (val. £80),? who may thus be inferred to have succeeded him.
In 1665 a notice occurs in the register of Bishop Croft, of an undertaking on the part of Col. Birch to rebuild the vicarage-house which was then ruinated, and Samuel Clarke is named as vicar, p. 209.
In 1684, as noticed above, Bishop Croft visited the church, and ordered the chancel to be repaved by Col. Birch, the farmer of the tithes.3
Pepys in his diary relates a conversation between himself and Col. Birch, in which the gallant colonel expresses a favourable opinion of bishops' leases as an investment, because, as he said, “ they could not stand, and so would fall into the king's hands, and I may gain some advantage thereby.” 4 How the same astute financier outwitted Bishop Croft in regard to the manor of Whitborne, and also to the tithes of Dilwyn, and was repaid by the bishop with some very choice epithets, is recorded in correspondence still extant, but does not belong to the history of Weobley.
The succeeding vicars of Weobley are as follows :Stephen Lewis, May 26th, 1690.
Morgan Evans, December, 15th, 1704, on whose monumental tablet it is recorded that he left two sons and four daughters, of whom three were married to the incumbents respectively of Staunton in Dean Forest, Staunton on Wye, and Staunton on Arrow. Joseph
I MS. ap. C. C. C. Library, Oxon., p. 206.
Pepys, Diary, iii, 361. 3RD SER., VOL. XV.
Guest, the incumbent last named, succeeded his fatherin-law in the vicarage of Weobley, June 17th, 1737.
Thomas Evans, July 17th, 1759; Morgan Price, July 1st, 1760; Morgan Price, December 3rd, 1781, also rector of Byford ; William Bridge, September 26th, 1782; William Bridge, July 15th, 1783; J. E. Troughton, May 1st, 1790 ; John Birch Webb (Peploe), August 2nd, 1826 ; obt., January 27th, 1869.
In the course of the Episcopal Registers it is mentioned that on April 14th, 1325, Bishop Adam Orleton dedicated the church of Webbeleye, and three altars therein. This must refer to some later addition to the original building, as the date of this is much earlier,
Bishop Spofford (circ. 1435) gives permission, when the festival of the dedication of Weobley Church fell during Passion Week or the season of Easter, to change the day to the Sunday next after the Feast of Relicks, and this is to be done annually, p. 155. On this arises a question difficult to solve. The church is dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, whose festival day occurs June 29th. The Feast of Relicks occurs on January 27th, and Relick Sunday on the third Sunday after Midsummer Day. It is difficult to see how the Dedication Day could ever fall either in Passion Week (the week next before Easter, sometimes, but not in this place, called Holy Week, or in Easter Week). Perhaps some more learned antiquarian than myself may be able to explain the difficulty.
Bishop Beauchamp in 1450, held an ordination in Weobley Church, p. 16.
In the Register of Bishop Bennett, among a list of Popish recusants” in Herefordshire is found the name of Jane Bridges, widow, sojourning in her son's house at Weobley, and also that of her servant Joice. Mrs. Bridges is said to be the sister of Richard Blount, of Lempster, p. 78.
1 Bacon, Lib. Reg., p. 375.
2 See also Pilgrimage of Sir R. Guildford, Camd. Soc., p. 3; Nicolas, Chron. Hist., p. 166.
In the Roll of Bishop Swinfield, edited by that venerable antiquarian, now gone to his rest, the Rev. J. Webb, we find that on Monday, May 29th, 1289, the bishop visited Weobley, and lodged there one night, and that hay and oats for thirty-eight horses were supplied by the prior of Lantony the rector of the place.?
The Parish Register begins with March 25th, 1635.Richard Childe, Vicar. The earliest book is in good condition. The following entries are extracted from various parts of the several books belonging to the parish.
1636.–Married 3 ; baptized 6; buried 12.
1653. Thomas Baskerville, of Eardisley, J.P., approves of Roger Smith, of Weobley, to be Registrar of births, marriages, and deaths.
Baptised 17, buried 24. 1659.—Collection by brief for inhabitants of Soulby (Solebay ?) in Suffolk, suffered by a storm, 11s. Old.
1663.-For repairs of Canon Frome Church, and for inhabitants of Hexham, 4s. 2d.
1664.–For those visited with the plague in London and elsewhere, 8s. 9d.
1684.-Bishop Croft visited the church, and besides orders mentioned above, ordered that the Communion Table, then standing with the (one) end east, and the other west,” not to be altered, but at the charge of the church wardens (i.e. not at Col. Birch's expense).
May 6th, James Young “ inhumaniter trucidatus est et bonis omnibus spoliatus, post occultam inhumationem a barbaris trucidatoribus per novem septimanas miraculosa providentia dei inventus, publice sepeliebatur in semiteria ecclesiæ de Webley. Trucidatus erat in horreo apud Devereux Wootton dum dormiebat."
1691.- May 14th, John Birch, Esq., buried.2 1697.—“John, son of Charles Turnor, and Mary his wife, born July 11th, baptized Thursday July 15th, by
1 Swinfield Roll, pp. 89 and ccxix.
one Halsey, a Presbyterian minister, who usually preaches at a meeting-house in Leominster, and Joseph Twemlow, who preaches at the meeting-house in Weobley, attending upon him.”
1717.-For a new clock, £8 5s.
Many entries occur of money paid to the ringers on various occasions—the victory of Blenheim-that of Preston, &c., inter alia, “gave to a maimed soldier which had his gutts tied up before him ls.” Many soldiers also from Ireland were relieved.
The dimensions of the church are as follows:-
Nave, 65 feet 5 inches extreme width, 68 feet 2 inches. Width of the nave alone, to the centre of the pillars, 25 feet 1 inch. Width of the south aisle, 20 feet 0] inch. North aisle, 23 feet 02 inch.
The oldest part of the building recognizable by its style is the south porch, which belongs to the twelfth century. Some work of the thirteenth century also remains, but the greater part belongs to the fourteenth with some later additions. The clerestory windows of the fourteenth century are particularly fine. The chancelarch belongs to the same date. The staircase to the rood-loft, and the door therefrom into the church are fully preserved. There are five bays in the nave, the arch at the east end on the north side has the ballflower ornament. The oak timber roof is of later date, fifteenth or sixteenth century, and of good workmanship. It bears various devices, among them a shield with the arms of Bridges, and one with those of Sourdevall. What connection existed between this latter family and Weobley I have been unable to discover. There are in the aisle windows some remains of glass of the fifteenth century, very fine in quality, but much mutilated.
The tower stands at the north-west angle of the church, and projects obliquely into the north aisle. It belongs to the fourteenth or early part of the fifteenth century, and is surmounted by a spire of the same character, “the top whereof,” says Blount, with the cross
about the year 1640, was blown down in a tempest and not yet repaired. One bar of iron which fell with it, weighing three hundred pounds. The spire was repaired in 1675," but deprived of some twenty feet of its height. It is now in much need of repair. The ground floor of the tower has a vaulted roof of stone. There are six bells with the following inscriptions :
1. “Beware my roing sound before ye lie in ground. 1657.”
“Gift of Mansel Powell” (see above p. 14). 3. “London. 1838." 4. “God save His Church. 1605.” 5. “God save Queen Anne. 17-"
6. “Be it known to all that shall me see, John Martin of Worcester made me. 1657.” Before this, but not fully to be seen,“ —ce (peace ?) and good neighbourhood. 17–."
In p. 166 of Dineley's History from Marble, may be seen a plate with this inscription : “ The south prospect of Weobley's church, as its steeple now stands, anno MDCLXXXII, beautified, repair'd, and adorn'd by John Birch, Esq., one of the hon ble burgesses for this ancient corporation.”
Returning to the interior of the church we find several sepulchral monuments well worthy of attention :
1. At the east end of the north side of the chancel a huge monument to Col. Birch, consisting of a really noble figure, though exaggerated in altitude, of white marble, standing under a niche with Corinthian columns, and warlike emblems on each side. He is in full armour, and holds a truncheon in his right hand. The inscription beneath is as follows: “In hope of resurrection to eternall life, here is deposited the body of Coll. John Birch (descended of a worthy family in Lancashire). As the dignities he arrived at in the field, and the esteem universally yielded him in the Senat-House, exceeded the attainments of most, so they were but the moderate
1 Topographer, ii, 207; see also inf.