It was a sunny Monday morning, and taking advantage of a quiet start to the parish week I was sorting through the remainder of a hundred and more photographs of churches after my last foray into Worcestershire in May of 2013. There remains much to catalogue and even more to write, and no doubt I will get around to at least some of it before I become part of the very history I am trying to gather together.
Early on I found three images of the delightful church of St Edburga in the hamlet of Leigh, some six miles to the north west of the city of Worcester. Built by monks in the year 1100 it is revealed history in stone, but also contains much more information about the surrounding community. That will certainly be one of my next essays – and will include a few words about the strange cult of Edburga, or Eadburh, of Winchester, a nun that somehow gripped the imagination of many in the late tenth century. But wandering as it usually does, especially on a Monday morning out of sight of coffee, my mind half-remembered another parish church, also near to Worcester of the same name. One that I have only driven past many years ago, and generally ignored on account of it being Victorian in origin. But perhaps I ought to pay it more respect on account of its previous history, and the stalwart efforts of one of its nineteenth century vicars.
The church of St Edburga in Abberton, to the south east of Worcester, was built in 1882 in the “Gothic revival” fashion. (It does have a Norman font – surely worth a visit in itself.) There was clearly an earlier church on the site but I have yet to unearth the ecclesiastical history. With regard to the neighborhood: At the time that the font was first used the community was listed in Domesday Book (1086) as, in the Manor of Pershore, having four point three households comprising twenty four villagers, eight smallholders and seven slaves. And of course they all would have gone to church on Sunday.
But what caught my eye in the Worcestershire census returns of 1851 was that Abberton retained a population of eighty souls, nineteen of whom were the children of the local vicar. Definitely a subject to look into…