St Peter's - Abbots Morton Church
The village is the smallest in the ARCH Benefice and one of the smallest parishes in the whole of Worcestershire, with a population little over 150, but it punches well above its weight in its innovative ideas and ability to organise itself. The community have a real sense of ownership of the building and the sacred space that it signifies.
Abbots Morton church community play a significant part in the community life, and I offer three examples. At Christmas a “Carol and Gift Service” starts with a nativity play, usually written by local children, and then a most generous pile of gifts are donated to a local charity, Action for Children. In addition, usually on the following Monday, we have “Carols on the Green” at which hot soup, chocolate and hot nibbles are served while we stand and sing carols accompanied by a young guitarist. They are magical times and well supported by the community.
Sundays with the following pattern:
First Sunday: 9.30 am Celtic Morning Worship,
Second Sunday: 8.30 am Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
Third Sunday: 11.00 am Family Service or Celtic Morning Service
Fourth Sunday: 8.30 am Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion.
Does the worship leader do it all?
Usually, but there are plans and training to involve others. We do have a rota of readers and occasionally have prayer leaders.
Not easy. There is access via a car driving up the slope to the right of the steps to the churchyard. The fence can be lifted and moved, and then one carefully drives across the churchyard between the headstones to the door via the west end (tower end). The porch has two steps down to the church, and once inside, it is all flat.
There is no PA or loop system installed.
Toilets are yet to be installed. Kind neighbours have been known to help out in emergencies. The nearby village hall, when open, also provides toilet facilities.
Seating Capacity: 100 – about 115 if one goes into the bell tower.
In the village along the main road and around the Green. There isn't usually a problem, but for large services, such as weddings and funerals, the churchwarden who is a local farmer allows his field next door to be used for parking.
History OF St Peter's Abbots Morton Church
The most northerly of the four parishes in the benefice, the parish of Abbots Morton incorporates the hamlets of Morton Spirt, The Low and Gooms Hill, as well as the village of Abbots Morton itself. The parish contains approximately 70 homes. Many of the houses in the village are half-timbered "black and white" buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries; three have 15thcentury origins.
8th - 16th century: Evesham Abbey and "Morton Abbatis"
The Domesday Book of 1086 lists Abbots Morton as "Mortune", assessed at 5 hides and belonging to Evesham Abbey, but the settlement is believed to have been established several hundred years earlier. Before the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, Abbots Morton used to be a country retreat for the abbots of Evesham; the remains of their moated manor house can still be seen near the church. The site of the manor house was acquired by Evesham Abbey in the 8th century, and a building existed on the site before the Norman conquest.
Abbots Morton (Morton Abbatis) was one of the parishes entangled in the dispute between Evesham Abbey and the Bishops of Worcester: both parties claimed control over the churches in the Vale of Evesham and the surrounding area. After 200 years, the dispute was finally settled in the middle of the 13th century when the abbey was given jurisdiction over all the churches within the Vale apart from one: Abbots Morton.
16th-17th century: the Hoby and Kighley families
After the Dissolution, Abbots Morton passed into the hands of the Hoby [Hobby] family, who acquired many of the properties originally belonging to Evesham Abbey. In 1600 ownership of the manor appears to have been disputed: documents held at the Worcestershire Records Office include "Letters Patent of Elizabeth I being a licence for alienation from Richard Hobby [Hoby], esquire, to Richard Mottershed, gent., and Ralph Hodges of the manors of Badsey and Abbots Morton…" while the Records of the Kings Remembrancer in the National Archives show "Philip Kighley of Broadway, gentleman to Thomas Edgeok of Broadway, gentleman: Demise, indented, for 3 years, of the manors of Badsey and Abbots Morton,…"
Philip Kighley had married Elizabeth Hoby, Richard's daughter, in 1597, which is presumably how the manor of Abbots Morton passed into the hands of the Kighley family. After Philip's death at the beginning of the 17th century, Elizabeth married Charles Ketilby, who sold the manor a few years later. The Records of the King's Remembrancer for the first decade of the 17th century (held at the National Archives) include "Inquisitions as to the possessions late of Sir Philip Keighley,… (Kettleby v. Bond, Edgiock, and Hodges)" referring to properties within the Vale of Evesham. Is "Kettleby" Charles Ketilby, and "Edgiock and Hodges" the Thomas Edgeok and Ralph Hodges mentioned in the documents from 1600? Perhaps ownership of the manor of Abbots Morton was also part of the enquiry?
18th century: the Throckmorton family of Coughton Court
By the beginning of the 18th century, much of the land around Abbots Morton appears to have been acquired by the Throckmorton family of Coughton Court. Papers deposited in the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive record 500-year leases of "rights of common" granted on lands of Sir Robert Throckmorton; and a century later, John Throckmorton was disputing the tithes of Abbots Morton.