The Cathedral Library has a collection of old maps which present pictures of Worcester long before the coming of the Ordnance Survey and the maps we are so accustomed to seeing today. Among this collection is The Hardwick Map showing land belonging to the old Hardwick Manor on the west side of the River Severn.
This extract from the map shows the position of Hardwick Court near the River surrounded by its manor fields. The map is aligned East-West instead of the usual modern North-South. Hardwick was on the west bank of the river, over the old bridge from the Cripplegate shown bottom left. Hardwick Court is halfway along the road called Rosemary Lane on the map, which is today’s Henwick Road. All that remains of the Court is the name now given to Hardwicke Close.
A manor was a medieval form of land tenure which included the right to hold its own Court Baron dealing with tenancies, land disputes and agricultural practices. Hardwick Manor was documented in 1236 as belonging to the monks of the Priory, although they claimed that King Edgar had first granted it to them sometime between 961 and 975. After the Dissolution, the Manor passed to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral. It is known that a Court Baron was held in Hardwick as late as 1857.
The title of the Hardwick map says that in 1754 the Manor was “in lease to Mr Francis Moule.” The land on lease was shown as a series of numbered fields, some for grazing animals, some for making hay, and some for crops. But as well as serving this useful purpose, the map has lots of fascinating extra local information.
This large-scale extract from the previous map shows Hardwick Court in more detail, and the land just next to it surrounded by trees labelled Henwick. Little drawings of the important buildings are included. A Gravel Pit is drawn in Field 6, and in Field 5 opposite a mound with a pigeon loft on top. Over the way from Henwick is The New Inn, presumably the predecessor of the Crown and Anchor in the same position on Hylton Road.
The current site of Oldbury Park Primary School and of the University’s St John’s Campus is marked with the simple title Coneygre Grounds. In 1256 the monks of the Priory obtained from King Henry III a grant of free warren in their lands which meant that they could take the rabbits there. Coney was a Middle English word for a domestic rabbit, so the Coneygre Grounds were a kind of protected rabbit warren.
This extract shows Cripplegate leading down to the old bridge with its four buttresses. A long quay leads from the bridge along the river, making a convenient place where boats could tie up and be unloaded. Hylton Road was Hinton Lane in 1754. And St Clements Church was then on the Cathedral side of the river. It flooded regularly so in 1822 the new church was built on higher ground on the other side.
I hope to show further extracts from The Hardwick Map in another Blog, including information about the land around St John’s church.
More information on Hardwick Manor and all the other manors in the parish of St John can be found in the relevant Victoria County History and in this web page: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/worcs/vol3/pp501-510
[Note: a picture on the library wall shows boats drawn up alongside the quay mentioned above.]