More information on the Tudor period 1485-1603
Parish registers began in 1538, and the surviving records provide a wealth of information about residents and genealogy. Churchwardens’ accounts also begin at this time and show details of how and why money was collected and spent by the local parish. This was also just after the Dissolution of the Monasteries which led to the demise of the Nunnery at Westwood in 1536. As the Nunnery owned land locally, this was a major change – although the family of Joyce Acton, the last Prioress, acquired the Nunnery’s lands at this time. These included Crutch as well as Westwood and other lands. Later the Westwood estate passed to the Pakingtons. ‘Lusty’ Sir John was a favourite of Elizabeth I and he built the grand Jacobean house there at the end of this period.
Westwood House in Hampton Lovett, from where the Pakingtons had much influence over Dodderhill
During this time there were many changes in religious practices as the whole country moved from Catholicism to Protestantism, then back again, and finally settled to tolerant Elizabethan Protestantism. This would have affected the priests at all churches including those in and around Dodderhill parish and also the inhabitants.
The Poor Law started in 1531 and was developed until 1598; this was a parish-based system of support and relief for very impoverished people. Vagabonds, ie ‘travelling poor’, could be whipped and branded and forcibly returned to their place of birth or last dwelling, where they would be put to work. Locally resident poor people and their children would be put to work or bound into service or apprenticeship (the latter usually involved children living away from their parents).
Land use changed due to a diminishing reliance on wood as the fuel for the Droitwich salt industry, as coal became more widely available. Fieldwalking evidence suggests that the eastern part of the parish (the Astwoods) had been managed woodland, but around 1600 the land was cleared of trees so it could be used for farming, and several timber-frame farmhouses were built on Dodderhill Common at the eastern edge of this area, most of which survive today.