Pershore: Its History and Archaeology
A talk by Deborah Overton
Thursday 27 February 2020
Deborah Overton is a landscape archaeologist who has worked for the Worcestershire Archaeology Service for many years. In her detailed and illuminating talk she gave an insight into the “The Archaeology and History of Pershore”, beginning with woolly mammoths and finishing with an illustration of the tank traps from World War 2 still in place on the old bridge.
As Deborah explained, the Avon valley was once a flood plain with pools, lagoons and marshes – and large animals hunted by the prehistoric people . The abundance of the food supply enabled settlements to occur in the area, such as that at Bredon Hill on which a fort was later built. Farming became important later, providing the Roman occupiers with grain, with the settlers living in “round houses” remains of which still exist.
The name “Pershore” means “osier bank”, willow being an important material until the 20th century. Pershore was the site of an iron-age settlement, and Roman coin and terracotta pots from Gaul and Malvern have been found here but there is very little other evidence of later Anglo Saxon housing, which was wooden.
In 681 King Athelred of Mercia gave to Bishop Oswald of Worcester estates covering 42,000 acres, on which to establish a monastery which later became the Abbey where it is today. Dedicated to St Mary and St Edburger, the original building was of wood; the later Norman stone Abbey was built between 1090 and 1130, very much larger than it is today. Unfortunately animosity seem to have arisen between the monks and the local secular thanes – with the Thanes taking over much of the Abbey land which was eventually given to Westminster Abbey. The town of Pershore now had two large landowners, the Holy Cross, (Pershore Abbey), and Westminster Abbey, such that the town itself was divided along Broad Street. The Westminster Abbey parishioners were not allowed to worship at the Abbey so the church of St Andrew was built.
The wool trade prospered, as later did glove making in the town, with the river providing transport to Bristol; the wealth enabled large scale building in the town. A few timber framed buildings still remain, and specific buildings of note include the Angel Inn (which was a Posting and Coach House) the theatre with 16th century decoration, and a medieval bread oven in 25 High Street. More recently there were memories of the incident shortly after WW2 when a Wellington bomber crashed on what was then the Brandy Cask pub, and the crew were killed.
With this sad episode Deborah concluded her well received historic examination of the town’s history.