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Caynham Village, Shropshire

Caynham Village History

The Manor of Caynham - William the Conqueror and his Norman knights, the Mortimers

The village of Caynham in the 21st century is far smaller and less important than was the manor of Caynham in Norman times. In 1086 Caynham is recorded in the Doomsday book , which has no mention of Ludlow. Radulph or Ralph of Mortimer held it, from the Earl of Shrewsbury. Earl Morcar who held it in Saxon times, also held another three Shropshire Manors. He retained much of his power and influence after the Norman Conquest, being confirmed in his title of Earl of Mercia.

William the Conqueror found his new subjects far from easy to subdue. Although he was crowned on Christmas Day 1066, it was not until 1071 that William fully conquered England. English resistance and rebellion is recorded in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, which testifies to continued unrest for several years after the battle.

Furneaux claims that William attempted to satisfy both his Norman supporters and his Saxon subjects by acting with justice and consideration. He gave land to his followers only from the estates of those Saxon nobles who had fallen at Hastings, and confirmed all other traditional owners in their possessions. The new landowners were ordered to accept the rights and obligations of the previous owners, and the laws and customs of England were retained. The only significant change made by William was the abandonment of English as the language of administration and its replacement with Latin.

The Mortimers were Norman knights who had come over with William the Conqueror. They originated from Mortemer-en-Bray in Normandy. Ralph of Mortimer was Roger of Mortimer’s son, and probably Earl Roger’s steward. Ralph received a number of estates forfeited by his cousin, Roger, son of Earl William of Hereford, on his rebellion in 1074 . In 1179 the newly founded Abbey of Wigmore was dedicated, and Hugh de Mortimer confirmed his gift of the Manor of Kayham to the Abbey. The Manor included not only Caynham, Snitton, Hope Baggot and Knowbury, but also Clee Hill. However Roger de Mortimer who quickly succeeded Hugh, challenged the title of Wigmore Abbey to Snitton, which was held by a lady as a dower at the time when Hugh gave the rest of Caynham to the abbey. On her death Roger initially allowed this part of the Manor to belong to the Abbey, but when he realised what a convenient staging post it was between Cleobury and Wigmore he took it back. His conscience was stirred when his wife, Isabel de Ferrars was seized with sudden labour at Snytton. Their child died and she was in some danger, and Roger, in response to her pleas and his own misgivings, restored the vill of Snytton to the Abbey to hold freely with the Manor of Caynham forever.

According to the Inquest of Overs Hundred in 1255, John de Cainham was the Abbot’s tenant at Caynham. The Abbot assumed the privileges of having a gallows and of assizing bread and beer in the Manor.

In 1291 the Abbot was receiving from Caynham and Snitton, Rents £16, a mill £1 10s, Pleas and Perquisites 13s 4d, a total of £18 8s 4d. St Mary’s Church contributed the sum of £3 6s 8d which included the profits from a Coalmine of five shillings.

By 1535 the rents and ferms derived from Caynham and Snitton were worth £37 3s 9d to the Abbot of Wigmore, to which were added the Demesne land worth £8 7s 4d and the profits from the court, from fines, heriots (a death tax whereby the Lord of the Manor took the best beast from the estate) reliefs and amercements (fines for contravening the laws of the manor, e.g. allowing beasts to stray, or not weeding strips of land so that others suffered from wind-blown seeds.)

Henry VIII’s acquisition of the Abbey of Mortimer and its sale to John Adams 1541

Ludlow played a vital role in the events that led to the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife and mother of Queen Mary, had first been married to his older brother Prince Arthur. The young royal couple, Catherine and Arthur, then aged 15, had spent their honeymoon of four months at Ludlow Castle. Arthur was only 15 years and seven months when he died in Ludlow in April 1502 . He was Henry VII’s heir and people hoped that he would continue the task his father had begun of re-uniting the country. Instead with his death the succession passed first to his brother Henry VIII and then to Henry’s daughter Mary, with the resultant swings in religious attitudes and persecution. When Henry VIII’s marriage to his brother’s widow, Catherine, failed to produce a male heir, Henry claimed that he had provoked divine displeasure by marrying his brother’s wife, citing the Old Testament, - “And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing.” However there had always been an uncertainty as to whether the marriage between the two young people, Catharine was only a year older than Arthur, had ever been consummated. When Henry VIII sought to divorce Catherine in 1529, it is reported, that during the divorce trial, “Queen Katherine rose out of her chair, knelt before the King and said “When you had me first, I take God to be my judge that I was a maid, and whether it be true or not I put to your own conscience.” Henry’s conscience was not touched, and she was divorced when the bid to persuade the Pope to annul the marriage failed. Henry VIII established himself as the Defender of the Faith in England In 1536.

At the time of the divorce, Catherine who was several years older than Henry, was 44, an unlikely age for a woman to bear further children. The eventual inevitable result, a divorce enabling Henry to marry his next fancy, at least left Catherine with her life, although two of her five successors were beheaded. Henry was able to appropriate the considerable wealth of the Catholic Church in England and dissolved the monasteries and abbeys and sold them off. Wigmore Abbey received £50 a year for the Manor of Caynham, a large sum for that time. After the Dissolution, the land was leased to William Foxe and his son in 1536. Henry began to dispose of the lands and buildings, which had belonged to the Catholic Church, and the large holding of the Abbey of Wigmore was sold to John Adams.

The original sales contract dated June 1541 , which Henry VIII, signed Hales, and sealed with the great seal of England, is still in the possession of the descendants of the Curtis family, (who provided the photograph) and states,

In a consideration of £674 18s 4d sterling paid and to be paid to our use by our beloved subject John Adams of Caynham in our County of Salop Gentleman we do give and grant unto the said John Adams all that our Lordship And Manor of Cayneham which late belonged and appertained to the late Monastery or Abbey of Wigmore in our County of Hereford late dissolved and all messuages granges houses cottages lofts barns stables dovehouses mills lands tenements meadows feedings pastures woods underwoods furze heath wastes commons rents …perquisites of courts leets views of frankpledge liberties franchises fairs markets market tolls .. ways rivers waters watercourses fisheries .. and all other.. advantages and hereditaments whatsoever with their appurtenances in the towns fields parishes and hamlets of Cayneham, Snytton, Bytterley and Hope in our said County of Salop.

1584 The Foxe family acquire Caynham

In 1584 the Manor passed from Charles Adams to Charles Foxe, (1505-1590). Charles Foxe’s brother Edward, who died in 1599, owned the Bower, and parts of Greete and Caynham. One of the three bells in St Mary’s church tower bears the coat of arms of the Foxe family.

Charles Foxe had three sons, Charles, Edmund and Edward. Edmund who died in 1617 owned land in Much Cowarne in Herefordshire. Both his brothers were awarded titles, and Sir Charles who lived from 1545 to 1633 had large land holdings in Bromfield and Oakley Park. His brother Sir Edward, (1578-1628) who held the manor of Caynham, had three wives.

His second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Charles Somerset, was the mother of his son Somerset Foxe, who was born in 1598 and lived in Caynham until 1643, when his son, a second Somerset Foxe, inherited it. He was a lawyer and MP for Ludlow from 1669 to 1671. He was an ardent Royalist, serving as secretary to Prince Rupert, Charles I’s nephew. In an attempt to return the throne to the son of Charles I he plotted to assassinate Cromwell. This resulted in his being deported but he returned to favour when Charles II was invited back to rule in England and rewarded his loyalty. More details of his adventures appear in the chapter on Caynham Characters.

The Powys family buy the Manor of Caynham from Somerset Foxe 1668

Somerset Foxe sold the Manor of Caynham in 1668 to Thomas Powys. The Powys family, like the Foxes, had great influence, wealth and land in the area. When Somerset Foxe sold Caynham the fortunes of the Foxe family were declining but those of the Powyses were still in the ascendant.

William Powis, who was born in 1485, was a tanner, and part of a very thriving trade. Two of his sons also became tanners and a third a glover. His second born son, Thomas, who lived from 1558 to 1639, was a yeoman, farming at Snitton. Thomas Powis senior was sufficiently successful for his son, Thomas, to become a lawyer, a profession much in demand in commercial Ludlow, where the Council of the Marches sat from 1473 to 1689, with all the attendant business it brought to the town, its inns, tailors, merchants and landlords.

Thomas Powys lived at Henley, and was Sergeant at Law. He married Anne, daughter of Adam Littleton. Their two sons, Littleton and Thomas both became judges and were given titles. Sir Thomas was also Attorney General from 1687 to 1689.

Somerset Foxe sold the Manor of Caynham to Thomas Powys in May 1668 for £2,077. The manor included the building, commonly called the Court of Caynham, the mill, Coxalls farm and all the other houses and farms which made up the manor, the advowson, that is the gift of the living, and patronage of the church and vicarage, all the privileges connected with the courts leet and baron, the collection of fines, taxes, etc and the grazing rights on “all that waste and mountain ground commonly called the Cleehill.” Soon after acquiring the Manor, Powys died in 1670 and was outlived by Somerset Foxe who died in 1689.

Somerset Foxe’s will 1689

His will which was proved in October 1689 shows he was still a wealthy man.

His estate was valued at £323 15 shillings and six pence. He owned 20 cattle, 68 sheep, 3 horses and 15 pigs, as well as grain, hay and corn. The contents of various rooms are listed,

In the Kitchen, brass, pewter and ironware of all sorts

In the Hall, a table, board and bench

In the Parlour, 14 cane chairs and 1 plush chair with bench and other furniture, and the hangings there.

In the Red chamber, the bed and furniture with the hangings

In the Blue chamber, the bed hangings and furniture

In the chamber above the kitchen, 2 beds, bolsters, the furniture and hangings thereto

In the chamber over the red chamber, 2 beds with the curtains, valance and other furniture

In the chamber over the Blue chamber, the bedstead hangings and carpet upon the table

In the maid’s chamber, one bed with its furniture

In the chamber next the black Chamber, one bedstead and furniture,

In the chamber over the stable, one bed and bedstead

In the Pantry, one bed with hangings and furniture

Grain, hops, a malt mill, cheese and provisions of all sorts are also listed.

Somerset Foxe’s death is registered in Caynham Parish Register records, and it is the opinion of various local history experts, including David Lloyd, that Somerset Foxe continued to live at Caynham Court (although not in the present building) and that the inventory is of his possessions in that house, which was evidently from the hearth tax and the details above a very substantial dwelling.

Who owned the mineral rights to Clee Hill?

After Somerset Foxe’s death, there was subsequently great confusion and dispute about whether Somerset Foxe had retained the mineral rights and still owned the cottages, mines and enclosed lands on the Cleehill. Somerset Foxe in his will left the mineral rights to his two sisters. Tony Mason has transcribed the Court of Chancery document of 1725 in which witnesses give their answers to a series of questions designed to establish who the true owners of that part of the Manor are. Unfortunately the judgement has yet to be traced, and may exist among the million largely unread and indexed documents stored at the Central Record Office at Kew!

It would however appear from the way in which occupation continued in Knowbury and Clee Hill that the cottagers, miners and squatters had the right to remain. The indenture between Foxe and Richard Powys also supports this. It states that the Manor of Caynham is sold, except:

all that soil and ground of the said waste ground called the Cleehill, and all mines of coal ironstone tobacco-pipe clay and all other mines whatsoever in or upon the said Cleehill and also except all cottages and houses now standing and being in and upon the said Cleehill, or which were at any time heretofore built or standing upon the same; and all lands now enclosed from the said Cleehill and used and enjoyed to and with the said cottages). To have and to hold the said mines messuages, lands, tenements, advowson, mill, courts leet, courts baron, view of frankpledge, rents hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever

Joseph Oldham buys from Thomas Powys 1776

The Powys family retained the estate until Thomas Powys sold it to Joseph Oldham in 1776. Joseph Oldham was a hop merchant from Bewdley who had in 1756 bought a paper mill in Hopton Wafers from the last remaining member of the Hyde family. Oldham seems to have been something of an entrepreneur. He was born in Nottinghamshire, sometime before 1739. He settled in Bewdley where his uncle had an extensive hop business. On leasing the paper-mills he settled there and built a house. Later, in 1776, he purchased the manor of Cainham, and, in 1788 he served as Sheriff of Shropshire. Eventually he settled in Somerset and died in 1809. During his time at Hopton Wafers, Oldham went into partnership with Thomas Compson, (Sheriff in 1792), who was also his brother-in-law. It is unlikely that either had previous experience of the paper industry, instead seeing it as an investment and allowing someone else to run the mills. The building at Caynham Court is thought to have been totally refurbished in the 1790s, either by Oldham before he sold it or more probably by Rev. William Calcott who bought it in 1792. There are vestiges of the older building still visible in the vaulted cellars with long, narrow hand-made bricks and in some of the corner pillars on the front façade of the building, which appear to be Jacobean.

Rev. William Calcott buys the estate 1792

Oldham sold the estate in 1792 to the Reverend William Calcott of Great Witley, for £18,300. The indenture lists in detail the farms, mills, blacksmith’s shop and other houses conveyed. Edward George and Edmund Ford were the tenants of Cainham court’s lands, meadows, leasows, pasture and hop grounds. Edward George was paying £300 a year rent to Oldham. The acreage is not given but on the basis of the other rents it was probably in excess of 500 acres. Serpent Farm, 130 acres, had 6 years left to run and tenant Thomas Tomkins was paying £70 a year. At Purvin John Oseland was paying £140 a year for 230 acres (slightly larger than the present farm).

Purslow’s farm and the Purslowe family

Purslow’s farm is also listed with its tenant, John Bate who was paying £82 for 95 acres 3 roods and 15 perches on a 21 year lease. (We have quite a lot of information about the Purslowe family, whose name was probably attached to the farm after they ceased to be tenants. The first mention in the Parish register is of the baptism of Marie in October 1613. She was the daughter of Edward and Alburrow (Albure) Purslowe. Albure’s death is recorded some thirty years later in 1644. It is likely that another son was William Purslowe (c 1618-1678) whose marriage to Anne Farmer is recorded in the church register on Jan 15 1643 followed by the baptism of five children, including their first daughter Anne in 1646, and their son Edward in Sept 1648. He eventually died aged 64 in 1712, and details of his will are on record.

Edward married Mary Baylis in June 1681 and their son William was born in 1685, their first two children, Mary and George having both died when a few days old. William Purslowe married Elizabeth and their first son, also William, was born in April 1717 but died when four years old.

William Purslowe and his farm had been detailed in the Somerset Foxe/Powys indenture of 1668. He died in February 1678. We, have a copy of the will of his son, Edward Purslow in 1712 , who left 2 oxen, 3 cows, 3 yearlings, 3 two-year olds and corn on the ground.

When evidence was taken in 1725 to try and establish the facts of the ownership of mines and tenements in Upper Caynham there is a reference to Edward Purslow of Bennetts End, tanner, holding a small quantity of the said waste not above half an acre lying near Collybrooke ford and adjoining to Britons Close. There are 11 Purslows listed in the 1851 census . However the Caynham Parish Records have no entries for Purslowe after 1799 when Mary Purslowe married Thomas Turford.)

The Smithy, the Mill and other dwellings

William Yapp at the Blacksmith’s shop had a yearly rent of £7. John Turley had taken over the tenancy of the water corn mills and the dwelling house and meadows measuring 20 acres 3 roods and 30 perches from Luke Tolley at a yearly rent of £41 with only three years left to run. Other houses were tenanted by of Widow James, William Ballard, John Currant, Edward Currant and Jane Medlicott. Tithes are also detailed, and Vigroves farm is mentioned. It is interesting to note that the surnames, George, Purslow, James, Currant and Medlicott appear in the 1851 census.

1827-1851 Captain Calcott’s estate, farms and tenants

The last member of the Calcott family to hold the title of Lord of the Manor was Captain Calcott according to Bagshaws’s Directory 1851 , who was no longer living in Caynham when the Curtis family purchased the estate in 1852. The estate book and map produced by Mr. C Evans in 1827 for the Calcott estate was updated several times during the Curtis family’s early ownership. The 226 acres that made up Cainham Court were in hand. A page is reproduced below which is for Camp Farm, previously called Cainham Farm. The tenant’s name Thomas Poyser is crossed out. It is interesting to note that field no 37, Brick Kiln Piece has been added later. The kiln may have been the source for local bricks.

The estate book, originally beautifully produced in painstaking copperplate handwriting with meticulously ruled lines, was so regular and accurate that I initially thought that it had been printed. It listed all the tenants, and acreage they farmed. Later changes were made in ink, quite neatly but in no way as polished a job as that done by Mr Evans when producing the original book and map of the estate. The abstract page shows that Benjamin Turley was in charge of the mill, until his death in 1856.

Thomas Poyser was farming Camp Farm, then known as Cainham Farm, and his brother William was farming 218 acres at Pervin. John Harding was at the Smithy, and Richard Ball at Poughnill Farm – part of the 97 acres was later passed to Ladyfield. In 1827 Caynham Cottage (then called Poughnill House) was empty although William Langston Esquire later took up residence. John Gould was farming Ladyfield, which was subsequently enlarged from 94 to 151 acres. Vigroves (sic) also grew a little. The tenant was William Rowlands and 110 acres later became 127. Tenants of the various estate properties included James Hill with a house and garden of 2 rods 4 perches, Humphrey Berry at North Cottages, with Edward Hartland. Miss Yeomans had the orchard and Caynham House, which she appears to have run as a girls’ boarding school. Mrs. Turley was also proprietor of a house and garden. New Pound Cottages are listed with no tenants. Kelly, the Curtis’s butler later lived in one of these and Lister the groom in the other.

Owners of the Manor of Caynham

Saxon - Earl Morcar

1066 – After Norman Conquest Earl Morcar was confirmed as Earl of Mercia

1086 Domesday Book Ralph de Mortimer

1180 Wigmore Abbey

1255 Abbott of Wigmore was Lord of Caynham manor, Abbey of Wigmore

1541 Following the Dissolution of Monasteries Henry VIII sold the Manor to John Adams for £674 18s 4d. The original document was in Latin. Here is a translation of a small part. This photograph shows the original document with the Great Seal of England attached. It is signed HALES by King Henry VIII. to John Adams for £674 18s 4d

1584 Charles Adams passed the Manor to Charles Foxe (1505-1590). Charles’ son Edward held the Manor of the Caynham, which passed to his son Somerset, by his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Charles Somerset.

1643 Somerset Foxe (1598 -1643) died and his son, also Somerset, inherited

1668 Somerset Foxe (1618-1689) sold for £2,077 to Thomas Powys of Henley, Francis Read, Clements Inn, Richard Simons, Gent. of Snitton

1709 to 1725 Humphrey Dobles lived at the.Court as tenant to Robert Powys

1776 Thomas Powys contracted to sell the Manor of Caynham for £19,000

1789 Enclosure Act 26th Sept

1792 Joseph Oldham, Sheriff of Shropshire (1788), sold to Rev William Calcott of Great Witley, £18,300

1800 Rev W Calcott is cited in Directories as owner

1826 Mrs Calcott listed as owner

1827 An estate book was produced with details of all the properties and farrs which made up the Caynham Court Estate. It was beautifully produced with maps and descriptions all being carefully handwritten by Mr C Evans. Some of the names have changed. Page 5 Caynham Farm became Camp Farm, and page10 Poughnill House became Caynham Cottage. The areas were recalculated with some parcels of land being transferred and the handwritten notes show the changes. The total estate came to 910 acres.

1841 Thomas Bridges, his wife and 5 children are recorded – independent means

1850 Major Calcott, Lord of the Manor – Caynham Court was not being lived in.

1851 John Haynes, 46 unmarried farmer of 30 acres, born Tenbury Wells

Curtis Dynasty 1852-1946

1852 bought by Sir William Curtis (1804-1870), 3rd Baronet for his son William

1870 Sir William Curtis, 4th Baronet (then only 10) inherited from his grandfather. His father the instigator of the purchase of Caynham Court, had died aged 26 in 1860 when his son was barely six months old. Sir William’s mother, Ariana remarried to George Berney Charleton who lived with his family at Caynham Court. The young Sir William lived there with his half brother and sisters.

1891 census Sir William M Curtis widower with his 2-year old daughter Constance. Also Housekeeper, Nurse, Cook, 2 housemaids, groom and footman.

1916 Sir William, who was passionately fond of hunting, and had built both beagle kennels and stables and kennels for a pack of foxhounds, died of pneumonia while serving in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. He had two daughters, and a stepdaughter but no sons. Sir Francis Egerton Curtis, a first cousin inherited and became the 5th Baronet. He never lived at Caynham.

1927 Edward Beaumont Cotton Curtis, a second cousin of the 4th Baronet bought Caynham Court and approximately 100 acres from Sir William’s widow, his second wife, Georgina Lady Curtis.

1936 Peter Curtis, his son moved into the Court with his wife Joan, and his parents lived in Caynham Cottage.

1939 Edward Beaumont Cotton Curtis died but his son Peter did not inherit the title of 6th Baronet until 1943 when Sir Francis died. (In 1976 Sir Peter Curtis died and his son, Sir William (Billy) Curtis, 7th baronet, a bachelor, inherited the title. His mother Lady Joan Curtis is still alive in 2006 aged 93.)

1940 -1945 Caynham Court was taken over by Lancing College and the Curtis family lived at Caynham Cottage, while Sir Peter was serving in the KSLI.

Post Second World War

1946 Miss Leisching, Mr and Mrs Rowe bought the Court and transformed it into a domestic science college

1963 Dales Turkeys bought the Court and land and provided offices and staff accommodation in the building and constructed additional turkey shed and hatcheries in the grounds.

1982 Brian Dale retired and the Court is sold again. After some lively discussions and various projects it is sold to developers who converted the stables and outbuildings into houses and moved a barn, which provided three houses.

1995 Captain Edmund Carlisle bought the Court building, but the other building plots and pieces of land are bought by interested individuals, such as Severn Trent and the owners of the hatchery.

1999 The walled garden and other parts of the land surrounding the Court were sold and four more houses built

2002 Captain Carlisle is forced to sell the court at auction to meet escalating legal bills.

2003 When the original purchasers dropped out, Paul Chester bought the Court and after substantial restoration and refurbishment moved in with his family in summer 2005. Work is continuing to complete the restoration.