The early evidence of a settlement in what is now the Parish of Shrawley was centered near a ford across the Severn, between it and the Woods. It remained in constant use until bridges were built at Stourport and Holt and until the use of river vessels of a deeper draft demanded the construction of weirs and locks or the dredging and deepening of the shallows associated with rocky outcrops such as those at Shrawley Weyre. It probably ceased to be useful about the middle of the nineteenth century. Associated with it and on higher ground was a “castle” or fortification obviously designed to protect the ford from marauders whether they were local bandits or invading Britons, Saxons, Danes or Normans. The tracks leading to and from the crossing place, later known as Redstone Ford, are generally regarded as having been important elements in the routes from North Wales, through the Abberley Gap to London via Hartlebury or Droitwich and, in the case of the latter, part of a “Salt way”.
The heavily wooded countryside included the Hundred of Doddingtree, which embraced the manors of Abberley, Astley and Glasshampton as well as that of Shrawley. The overlordship of the Hundred of Doddingtree was granted to a Ralph Todeni, a relative of the Duke of Normandy, in the year 1066 by William the Conqueror as a reward for his services as Standard Bearer during the Norman Conquest. He and other members of the family owned large areas of land throughout the county as recorded in the Domesday Rook. His sister owned the Manor of Elmley Lovett and Hadzor near Droitwich. After the Battle of Hastings, Ralph built the Priory near Astley Church and the well there still functions today. He also built castles at Abberley and Glasshampton.
Towards the end of the 11th century the first stage of the Parish church was built on a commanding site at the west end of the parish and with the appointment of a priest with responsibility for “the care of souls” in the surrounding district began the first real evidence of the Parish of Shrawley. The Lord of the Manor’s right of appointment of a clergyman to the parish—a survival of the control exercised by Feudal Lords over churches—meant that the boundaries of manor and parish were commonly and conveniently co-extensive. There is no firm evidence of the site of a Manor House but it would seem likely that its first equivalent was situated on the “Court Hills” by the ford.
The parish of Shrawley is not mentioned in the Domesday Book and the first official record of its existence is in the Evesham Chartulary or Register assigned to the latter half of the 12th century.
Through Ralph Todeni the manor of Shrawley fell by marriage to the Beauchamps* (see further details of the Beauchamps and le Poers at the end of this brief history) associated with the manor of Holt and subsequently again by marriage to the Earl of Warwick, the King Maker, who died discredited by the King, and so the Manor of Shrawley passed to the crown. During the reign of Henry VIII some fifty years later the Manor of Shrawley was granted to one Mr. Sheldon of Spetchley.
At the time of the Civil Wars 1642 – 1651 the Manor was divided, William Chylde, an ardent Royalist, possessing the woods and John Adams the remainder. At this time there may well have been two hamlets, one by the river and one by Frog Pool. Tradition has it that Chylde defended the ford and castle against Cromwell and that Cromwell subsequently occupied the site and doubtless the church, for the billeting of his troops. Around the same time Andrew Yarranton was active with his forge by the Dick Brook, and, being a sympathiser with the Parliamentarians, may well have rendered service to Cromwell with the repair or fabrication of his instruments of war. It would seem that the “Court Hills” which was the site of the fortification by the ford changed its name about now to “Olivers Mound”.
The Parish Today
Shrawley is a civil Parish covering ~ 2,000 acres bounded to the east by the River Severn and to the north and south by two small tributaries, Dick Brook and Shrawley Brook respectively. The western boundary is defined by the neighbouring Parishes of Little Witley and Great Witley & Hillhampton.
The main road through Shrawley is the B4196 which runs for some 6 miles north / south from the outskirts of Stourport to Holt; around 2½ miles of this lies within Shrawley. The only other road, apart from ones solely contained within the Parish, is the U62406 which connects the B4196 close to the Church to the A443 at Hillhampton; some half of this 3 mile road lies within Shrawley.
Because of this geography, the distance to the various local services varies depends on where a resident may live within the Parish. This can be illustrated by reference to access to a Post Office:
- Residents at Severn Bank / Lenchford are less than a mile from Holt Post Office but 4¾ miles from the one at Areley Kings and 5½ miles from Great Witley,
- Sankyns Green is 2¾ miles from Great Witley, 3¼ miles from Holt and 5½ miles from Areley Kings
- The New Inn area is 2½ miles from Areley Kings, 3 miles from Holt and 5¼ miles from Great Witley
Shrawley has some 175 permanent dwellings as of 2018 (excluding circa 100 holiday / mobile home but including those approved) with 49 (28%) within the settlement boundary and 126 (72%) outside. There are two settlement areas which encapsulate less than 2% of the Parish’s land mass, drawn historically around the Rose & Crown and the New Inn. These settlement boundaries have not been reviewed in nearly 40 years whilst the rationale for the one by the former Rose & Crown has changed. All the village services apart from the New Inn lie well outside the settlement boundaries.
Until recently (August 2018) Shrawley was served by the 294 / 295 bus service which was a continuous “shuttle” between Kidderminster and Worcester via Stourport with 6 journeys a day (excluding Sunday and with no evening service) in each direction, taking 30 minutes to Kidderminster and Worcester and 15 minutes to Stourport. This achieved 7 out of the 9 parameters established in the previous Rural Public Transport Survey, compared to a minimum 3 required for a Category 3 village.
The 294 service now provides an early morning and a tea time service from Kidderminster to Worcester with two tea time / early evening journeys from Worcester to Kidderminster. The 295 service has been replaced by the 296 which has 4 daily journeys each way between Worcester and Bewdley via Stourport, with regular connecting services onto Kidderminster from Stourport and Bewdley. There are 4 formal bus stops within Shrawley but the bus may stop anywhere when safe.
Shrawley is neither an isolated nor remote settlement but one where residents have a choice of which facility to use. It has easy access to the rail network at Droitwich, Hartlebury, Kidderminster and the Worcester Parkway when completed. It hosts significant daily commuter traffic from Wyre Forest to the Worcester hinterland during the morning and evening “rush hours”. It does appear incongruous that there is substantial new build around Stourport generating more such traffic through the village, whilst even limited development in Shrawley is said to be unsustainable.
Shrawley Population Profile 2001 and 2011 Census Table
The total population within North Claines NPA is 3,520 (2011 Census). There has been an increase of 13% in the resident population since 2001 (3,109 population). This is a much more significant increase than within Wychavon District which only saw a 3.5% increase in population and the West Midlands which had a population increase of 6.4%.
In terms of ethnicity, North Claines has a large white British population with 95.6% classified within the 2011 Census. The remainder is a mix of ethnicities including white non-British, Asian, black and other ethnic groups with no one group having a significant proportion of the 4.4% of the population.
There were 1,483 dwellings within the North Claines NPA according to the 2011 Census. North Claines has a significantly higher amount of detached houses compared with Wychavon and the West Midlands. Over half of the dwellings within the Parish are detached. Conversely, there are significantly lower proportions of terraced housing within the Parish compared with Wychavon and the West Midlands. There are slightly higher proportions of converted flats than the two comparators and the proportion of semi-detached houses and purpose built flats are similar to Wychavon.