The Pembridge Oak Tree

The oak tree that stands in front of the Trafford Almshouses in East Street was grown from an acorn brought back from Verdun in France.

One story goes that troops brought acorns back from France after the battle of Verdun. There was a fete held in Lyonshall to raise money for the troops and Colonel Benn of Moor Court bought some of these acorns. He planted one on the Moor Court estate and also, it is thought, the one at Pembridge.

It seems that the planting of acorns from Verdun was not unique to Pembridge and Moor Court and that there are oaks grown from Verdun acorns at many places in the country including Kew Gardens, Lichfield, Coventry and Swansea.

A possible explanation of this suggests that a box of chestnuts and acorns were sent from the Deputy Mayor of Verdun to the London and North-West Railway Company so that they could be sold to raise funds for the War Seal Foundation (London and North west Section). Sample boxes were sent to towns and cities along the route of the railway of which Lichfield would be one. Each of these sample boxes contained 1 chestnut and 3 acorns and instructions from the Curator of the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew on how they should be planted. Perhaps it was one of these sample boxes that Colonel Benn bought in Lyonshall.

William Sherbourne – Will

Following on from last week’s post about William Sherbourne, his will provides more information about his family life. This will was written in the year before his death. He lists his son, Essex and eight daughters and two grandchildren as beneficiaries of his will.

His first concern was for his soul and he left £40 for his burial ‘in decent order’, which must have paid for the memorial on the south wall of the chancel in Pembridge Church. This amount of money is considerably more that he leaves to six of his daughters, who received between £1 – £30; apart from his daughter Dorothy who received £100 and a parcel of land in Long Meadow and his daughter Elizabeth, who as well as being named as an executor of the will, received, with her brother Essex, the rest of William Sherbourne’s estate.

William also left some money for the poor of Pembridge, £15 to be shared out by Essex Sherbourne and Thomas Trafford, who followed William as Rector of Pembridge and married William’s daughter Alice.

After his death and inventory was taken of all William’s possessions which show that he had a house at Pembridge – Court House, as well as properties in Hereford and Lugwardine. This included £60 worth of books in his study; in the parlour: 7 chairs, 2 stools and 1 couch as well as two tables, 2 window curtains and a curtain rod. This level of detail continues throughout the house, listing all the rooms from the maidservants chamber to the ‘mault’ room, dairy house and high chamber. In total the inventory showed he had possessions totalling £513 7 shillings and 10 pence.

His will reads as follows:

In the name of God Amen August 28 Anno Doni 1678. I William Sherbourne Dr in Divinity and Vicar of Luggardine being of perfect memory praysed be God doe make and ordaine this my last Will and Testament in manner and forme following
First I bequeath my Soule into the hands of Almighty God my Maker hoping that through the mezilozious death and passion of his Son Christ Jesus I shall receive free pardon & forgiveness for all my sins, & as for my body I committ it to the earth from whence it came to be buryed in decent order to which end I leave fourty pounds to be layd out at the discretion of my Executors here nominated.

Item I give and bequeath unto my son Essex all my houses and lands in Luggardine during his naturall life only and then to his eldest son Essex.
I give unto my daughter Alice Trafford the sume of five pounds.
I give unto my daughter Mary Barbon the sume of one pound.
I give unto my daughter Ann Love the sume of one pound.
I give unto my daughter Katherine Sutton and her two sons the sume of twenty pounds.
I give unto my daughter Bridget Busby the sume of thirty pounds, but my Will and meaning is that my daughter Elizabeth Hughes shall have the disposing of the said thirty pounds to the use of my daughter Bridget Busby.
I give unto my daughter Davenant the sume of thirty pounds.
I give unto my daughter Dorothy the sume of one hundreds pounds, and also I give unto my daughter Dorothy a parcel of land in the parish of Pembridge, in a medow called Long-Medow and now in the possession of Mr Trafford.
I give unto my Grand-son Godwyn Hughes the some of one hundred and fifty pounds now in the hands of Mr Dancer in the name of my daughter Elizabeth Hughes, now my will and meaning is that my daughter Elizabeth Hughes shall have the disposing of this money for and towards the bringing up and education of the said Godwyn.
I give unto my Grand-daughter Sarah Busby the sume of fifty pounds to be at the disposing of my daughter Elizabeth Hughes.

I give unto Thomas Morgan the sume of ten pounds.

I give unto the Poor of Pembridge the sume of fifteen pounds, and I appoint Mr Essex Sherborne and Mr Thomas Trafford to be the disposers of it to the use of the said poor.

All the rest of my goods and Chattels and all things whatsoever not before given, I give and bequeath unto my Son Essex Sherborne and my daughter Elizabeth Hughes upon condition that they pay all my debts and legacies and doe make them sole Executors of this my last Will and Testament revoking all other Wills and Testaments. In witness whereof I have hereunto put my hand & seale the and year above written.

Memorand, to be at the disposing of my daughter Elizabeth Hughes, is interlined, before my sealing hereof

Sealed and delivered
In the presence of William Sheborne

Timothy Crumpe
Dorothy Crumpe
Edward Scott

William Sherbourne

Dr William Sherbourne was the Rector of Pembridge until to 1667 when he retired aged 77. Dr Sherbourne lived at the Court House just to the south of the church, next to the site where the castle would have been. According to Charles Davis Sherborn’s book ‘History of the Family of Sherborn’, written in 1901, William Sherbourne was born in 1596 and went to Oxford in 1612, later becoming a Doctor in Divinity and in 1642 a Canon of Hereford.  His family was prominent within this area for many years and he was friends with the Earl of Essex. His son Essex was probably named after the Earl and was the Earl’s godson. William died in 1679 and his memorial tablet is in the church and reads as follows:

From the old, of the same race and family name among the Lancastrians sprung
A good man, trustworthy, learned of integrity,
and upright on all counts:
Well tried by Fortune, triumphant he stood firm on each trial.
The patron in his church, while the times allowed him to serve both at the same time, he also belonged to the church as Prebendary of the Cathedral of Llandaff.
But with the raging wrath of his enemies, from his faith and
his house, he was driven away harshly by his own kind.
Yet with the destruction of all his possessions, he retained his courage and his faith and restored his roof.
At last with most peaceful happiness he came back to Charles as canon in the cathedral of Hereford.
Especially was he sought out as holy in the congregation.
Accepted among his fellows at last, wiser in his days (he was nearly 90) peacefully, piously and courageously he fell asleep in Lugwardine, where he first wished to find his resting place in his old age, and to seek it again now as his own.


Dr William Sherbourne’s memorial tablet indicates that he suffered during the parliamentary period (1649 − 1650) and was driven from the church and Pembridge. He was a Royalist and supported the King’s cause throughout the English Civil War, but when the Parliamentarians came to power he lost his lands and position in the Church but was reinstated when Charles II came to the throne. According to Charles Davis Sherborn:

“We find that on 30 Jan. 1660-51 order was made from the Committee to John James, High Sheriff of co. Hereford, that ‘whatever estate you have of Dr. Sherbom’s uncompounded for is to be sequestered’. On a later page of the same record it is stated that William S. of Pembridge, D.D., compounded 4 May 1649 for delinquency in adhering to the forces raised against the Parliament, and that the fine of £10 was paid on 11 June. He not only lost most of his estates, but all his spiritualities (Walker, Suff. of the Clergy (1714), 35), but was reinstated on the return of King Charles II. “

William married Alice, daughter of John Davenant of Oxford, and sister of Sir William Davenant, poet laureate (1638 − 1668). She died 29 Sep. 1660, aged 54 and also has a Memorial tablet in the Church.

William Sherbourne and his family lived at the Court House in Pembridge. In 1664 Dr. Sherborne’s Hearth Tax was £100, twice that of the ‘demesne’ or Lord’s farm (£52) and The Byletts (£48).

His eldest daughter Alice, married Thomas Trafford who also became Rector of Pembridge in 1667 after Willam retired aged 77. His grandson Nicholas later became Rector in 1686.  Another daughter Jane, died in childbirth aged 27th. She was married to Robert Bruton, a curate at Pembridge Church. Her memorial tablet is also in the Church.

Pembridge Market Hall

The Market Hall is one of Pembridge’s most distinctive features. It sits in the centre of the market square, aligned on a North/South axis, in a place where markets have been held for hundreds of years. This would originally have been a much larger market area, probably triangle shaped, with a base by the houses on the A44, including the area where the New Inn stands, and the two points of the triangle running up by the line of the houses. There would have been a 14th century market cross on this site prior to the building of the market hall, a stone from which can be seen at the base of the north east corner of the market hall.

Pembridge has had a charter for a weekly market and an annual fair since 1239 and during the Middle Ages, the Cowslip Fair (held every May) and the Woodcock Fair (held on St Martin’s Day in November) were important places for agricultural labourers across the county to seek work from landowners. The fairs continued through until the 19th Century.

In the 16th century the market area was reconfigured, with the market hall having been built between 1502 and 1539 according to the result of a dendrochronological survey carried out in 2002 by Ian Tyers of Archus Dendrochronolgy, Sheffield University.  The market hall is an open plan, single-storey design, with a hipped roof supported on eight oak posts, and is a Grade II* listed building.

An archaeological dig was carried out in 2003 to see if the current earth floor to the market place was original. This dig found animal bones, clay pipes and pottery fragments, proving that people have been eating and drinking there for many years. The compacted earth floor was found to be original.

The market hall was restored in 2005, much needed as the previous work was carried out in 1927. During the work in 2005 a penny, dating back to 1806 was found under one of the posts, showing an earlier restoration. It was replaced, along with a pound coin from 2005, to show future generations when work was carried out.

These days the Market Hall is still used for occasional markets, Christmas Festivals and as a place to sit and eat; activities which have probably been happening under the market square since it was built.

Pembridge Market Hall at Christmas

Pembridge Market Hall at Christmas