The Toll, Wychbold
The first reference to the Toll is in 1221, when Hugh le Tolnur is noted. The toll collector was alleged to have impounded ‘2 carts which bore the books of Richard, dean of Worcester’. In the same year it was reported that the men of Wychbold were taking many new tolls from carts passing through their village. In particular they were taking a half penny from each cart carrying pilgrims, if it was from Worcestershire and a penny from carts from further afield. It was presented to the Kings Justices that a woman pilgrim had been forced to pay the scandalous sum of 2 shillings in Wychbold. In 1275, during the reign of Edward I, Robert de Mortimer, the lord of the manor of Wychbold was again exacting tolls, this time from the Abbot of Bordesley and his men from Tardebigge as they passed through Wychbold. As the Abbots of Bordesley had been granted a charter exempting them from tolls throughout England the dispute was settled in the Abbots favour. The manor of Wychbold, including a capital messuage and toll paid by persons crossing the Salwarpe, eventually passed to Joan, the daughter of Hugh Mortimer, in 1308.
In the Lay Subsidy roll of 1327 Robert atte Tolle paid 8d tax. The next reference to the Toll is in 1558 when William Saunders of the Toll acted as an appraiser to the inventory of William Chadbourne’s goods and cattle. In 1562 Thomas Carewe, esquire, late of Coventry and Richard Sparry by an indenture of lease let to Richard Wyan alias Walker 20 acres in Walkmill Field, which was occupied at that time by John Hemmynge at the rent of one penny. They also let the Toll House and a little close of one acre adjoining and a close called Lowe Hedge to Walter Chadburne for one penny rent.
The Saunders family had a long association with the Toll at Wychbold. William Saunders of the Toll, a yeoman, died in 1582. His home was modest, with one grate where the cooking was done, water came from a well. William kept animals, 3 cows, 9 pigs and 4 sheep, enough to feed his family and perhaps to have some pigs to sell. He unusually had 6 hives of bees worth 6 shillings. Honey was the main sweetener in rural England and the wax produced by the bees was also in demand for making high quality candles, for waxing thread for shoemakers, saddlers and tailors and as an ingredient in polishes and medications. The women of the house were spinning linen yarn with a spindle and a great wheel.
Four years after William’s death another William Saunders of the Toll died. He was probably William’s son. He too kept animals: 3 cows and 4 calves, 9 pigs, 3 mares and 5 oxen. Oxen were valuable animals and were worth £16. They were used to plough the land for the crops that William grew, oats, barley, wheat, peas and vetches. The lease of his living was worth £4 but he also owned ‘Chappell’ house and the close adjoining it along with fields called ‘The Walltons’ and ‘The Ladie Means’ and meadowland in ‘Cavall Meadow’.
The Manor Court Rolls for Wychbold for 1601 show that William Saunders junior was at the Toll. He was charged with a breach of the peace after he assaulted Edmund Saunders, the son of Thomas, who may well have been his nephew. Simon Saunders who also lived in Wychbold bequeathed his lease land near Toll Green to his kinsman, William Saunders of the Toll in 1607. The Toll continued in the holding of the Saunders family into the 18th century when they paid Land Tax of 10s 8d.
It is quite possible that the lord of the manor had constructed a bridge over the Salwarpe at his own expense and the toll was raised for the repair and maintenance of the bridge. Townbridge is mentioned in March 1474 when a new leat was created on the Salwarpe for Walk-mill, in an indenture naming Richard Saunders and Rawlyn Walker. (Hampton 461. & 475877). When Richard Saunders of Wychbold made his will in 1567 he left a shilling for the repair of Spittle Causeway and 3s 4d for ‘making a certain bridge in Wichebold called Townbridge’. It is not known whether this was a new bridge, replacing an old one, or to repair the existing bridge.
The bridge is mentioned again in 1635 when a William Saunders was the supervisor of the ways of the Parish. He reported to the Quarter Sessions that the bridge, known as Hutt Bridge or Tunbridge was in a poor state of repair and Joan Stinton of Walkmill, the widow of John Hemmynge should repair it. Tunbridge was in what was called Toll Lane, now Crown Lane.
Research suggests that the Toll Cottage lies within these cottages.
Find Robert atte Toll in the Lay Subsidy Roll for 1327 – (wait to load)