Beckford (Google Earth: 52.020002°, -2.038073°) was the last village that I wanted to incorporate into my grand village tour that started in October, although there was no real reason to visit it as there was technically no War Memorial that needed photographing. In fact the one object that I originally thought may have been one turned out not to be one. I hit the road at 8.38 on Monday 26th, the plan being to photograph Beckford then continue to Evesham, do some shopping and then return home for lunch and to head to work for the evening shift at 4pm.
The bus travels through Bredon, Kemerton, Overbury, Conderton and finally Beckford. The pillar in the images above is really a road marker with the distances to the various village and towns around. A more modern equivalent also points more or less in the right direction.
The left hand side of this road is dominated by 3 properties: and from the street you can only really glimpse 2 of them.
The property to the left of the image above is where the church of St John The Baptist is, and that was where I ended up.
The Lych Gate in front is the village War Memorial, although there are no names inscribed on it.
And the church behind it is a beauty with perfect proportions and a very nice churchyard surrounding it. There are however no CWGC graves in the churchyard, but there was a surprise in store.
I circumnavigated the church and tried the front door. It was unlocked and I hoped that there was something to see within. I have visited a number of parish churches in the UK and some are truly spectacular, and many are very old; St John’s seems to encapsulate both. I was pleased to meet a church warden inside and he took me around the church. The village has had a church on this spot for about 1200 years, and a church is referred to as far back as 803 A.D. It can really be split into 3 sections: the older section being to the left of the spire,
then the spire itself (where the organ is situated),
and finally the area to the right of the spire (where the Altar may be found)
Yes it looks kind of plain, but this building carries a lot of the weight of ages in its structure, as well as the handiwork of those who built it so many centuries ago. There are many unique features in the church, one of the stranger ones is a piece of carved graffiti on one of the pews dated 1710!
The War Memorial inside the church is a brass plaque, and what makes it unique is that it not only gives the names of the casualties, but also their causes/places of death. There are 17 names on the Memorial plus one name from the 2nd World War. There is also a separate Roll that lists the 80 men from the village who went off to war in 1914.
Of special interest is the name of Kathleen Bennett, a VAD who died from TB in 1920. She is buried in the churchyard and her home was next to the church. There is also a stained glass window commemorating her. It is quite rare to find a woman on a war memorial, they tended to be conveniently forgotten or omitted.
I could waffle on about this church for ages, but won’t because this is supposed to be a village tour as opposed to a church tour, but it turned into one because realistically the village life would have been deeply meshed into their parish church, they would be christened in the 15th century font, and would be buried in God’s Acre around it.
The village also has a post office/shop, but I did not see a local pub but I bet there is one.
My watch put the time at just before 10 am. But my bus would only arrive at 10.57, so I checked for a bus heading back to Tewkesbury and decided to grab that instead. The problem with hanging around for an hour is that realistically once you have walked the village flat you end up having to stand around waiting… and I was not ready to do that for an hour, especially on a full bladder. There is much more to this village than what I had briefly explored, so maybe that is a reason for a return?
And that was Beckford, and the conclusion of my grand village tour. I do need to return to Overbury and visit Conderton, as well as possibly return to Ashton Under Hill, but that’s for another day. I will do a proper ROH post for the church at a later date.
What does the Domesday book have to say about Beckford?
- Hundred: Tibblestone
- County: Gloucestershire / Worcestershire
- Total population: 67 households (very large).
- Total tax assessed: 11 geld units (very large).
- Head of manor: Beckford.
- Taxable units: Taxable value 11 geld units. Taxed on 11.0.
- Households: 34 villagers. 17 smallholders. 12 slaves. 4 female slaves.
- Ploughland: 3 lord’s plough teams. 30 men’s plough teams.
- Other resources: 1 mill, value 0.03. 1 church.
- Lord in 1066: Rotlesc, a royal Guard.
- Overlord in 1066: King Edward.
- Lords in 1086: Ansfrid of Cormeilles; King William.
- Tenant-in-chief in 1086: King William.
- Phillimore reference: 1,59
DRW © 2018. Created 26/11/2018. The Open Domesday Project and the associated images are kindly made available by Professor J.J.N. Palmer. Images may be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.