Saturday, November 25, 2017

St Augustine, Dodderhill

The church occupies an ancient site, perched on a high hill above the town of Droitwich, once the site of a Roman fort, and overlooking the ancient salt springs and works of the town. There was a church here in Saxon times. A Norman church was built on the site and dedicated in 1220; the crossing and the north transept of this building remain. It was badly damaged in the Civil War in 1642, when Royalists attempted to dislodge Roundheads occupying the church resulting in the nave and south transept being destroyed by fire. The present tower built over the south transept replaced the central one in 1708. Bell openings in the tower were originally windows from the demolished nave. Because of the lack of a nave, the church is an unusual shape. At the end of the 20th century, the interior was reordered so that the altar is now at the west end of the crossing, to make it more visible to all the congregation. The west window, given by John Corbett of Impney, patron and benefactor of the church, shows scenes from the life of Saint Augustine. The chancel is Early English, replacing the earlier and smaller one around 1300. The extended space may have been needed to accommodate the brethren from the Hospital of St Mary which was to the south of the church, and survived until the reformation; the remains of its building finally disappeared when the railway line was built in the mid 19th century.

There are some interesting memorials in the church, and the list of the incumbents shows that Robert Glover held the living for 61 years, dying in 1636. The vicar at the time of the Civil War was William Jones, who was banished during the Commonwealth, but returned in 1660 to resume his ministry. Humphry Penrice was vicar for 54 years, and was also Patron of the living. The vicarage used to be near the church, to the east, but in early 20th century it was demolished and a new house built rather a long distance away in Crutch Lane, by Dr. Thomas Corbett, brother of John. This became a nursing home in the 1990’s.

St Augustine’s church has now become amalgamated with the Droitwich parishes, but the church still stands as a landmark over the town.

St Augustine © Dodderhill Parish Survey Project
Wylde family Poor Board 1624

Within the church are found Poor Boards. These give details of money, goods or lands which were given by local families to support the poor of the parish. This board gives details of the gift of Thomas Wylde in 1624 to the poor of the parish of Dodderhill.

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