Kenswick lies across the main road from Worcester to Martley between Lower Broadheath and Wichenford. A land unit in its own right, it comprises The Manor, The Kedges, Kenswick Mill and barns (formerly in Hallow) and the more modern houses at Pig Bridge. Recently the former Manor of Woodhall was transferred from Hallow to Kenswick.
The confluence of the two local streams, Laugherne Brook and Fitcher Brook, lies just to the north-east of the Manor.
Described in many books as a ‘deserted medieval village’, there is actually no evidence on the ground or in the archives that would support this assumption. Although odd and unusual, its main historical interest is that it has kept its identity over the centuries despite only having two original properties – The Manor and The Kedges.
The history of Kenswick is not easy to follow or interpret. What is clear is that it is old.
- It had a chapel / church attached to the manor and belonged to the extensive parish of St Helen’s, Worcester before the Norman Conquest of 1066
- It is named in Domesday 1086, when Wichenford is not.
- Men signing themselves ‘..of Kenswick’ can be found as witnesses to many documents of the medieval period..
But, as a single unit, it was never a parish; it is labelled on an 18th century map as ‘a Bailiwick of Wichenford’ i.e. was run by the Bailiff of Wichenford. In the 19th century a misreading by an historian of an alphabetic list of chapels tied it to Knightwick. There followed a protracted discussion that verged many a time on heated argument, between the Church Commissioners who had published the error, thereby giving it credence, the vicar of Knightwick, who pointed out the error, Admiral Britten of Kenswick, who had to keep the warring parties apart and Rev Davenport of Wichenford who resolutely followed the argument to the end, when it was agreed an error had been made and that Kenswick should form part of Wichenford. The sour relations left at the end were instrumental in the Brittens of Kenswick turning away from Wichenford church and sponsoring the building of the church in Lower Broadheath, whose spire to this day bears a weather vane in the shape of a ship in honour of the Admiral.
The parish of Wichenford is spread over a large area with north and south sections that meet at Laugherne Hill. Its heart is centered round the church dedicated to St Laurence, its former vicarage, Wichenford Court and the Memorial Hall. In the 1950s the Queen’s Estate development created a new village centre, which has since been filled out with a number of new houses and bungalows. Unfortunately over recent years we have lost the bakery, the shop and the post office. The old 19th century village school has been converted into two houses and the Nora Parsons Day Centre.
In 2000 to celebrate the Millennium the old recreation ground was refurbished as a Millennium Green; it offers a safe play area, an off-road cycle area and an exercise area. Perhaps its use as a dog walk - free from traffic - is its greatest draw!
There are a number of farms which are known to have medieval origins: Lingens, Peghouse, Hucks, Woodend, Cobhouse, Bury End Town, Abingdon’s, Colketts, Voyce Place, Ridgend, Cockshut, Ruggs Place, Birchend. Some even still have the remains of moats that once encircled them.
The rest comprises small hamlets of a few houses built round road junctions – Wants Green, Cobblers Corner, Tinkers Cross, Laugherne Hill Green, Kings Green, Elm Green and Rosses Green.
Approximately 250 households make up a population of c 400. Worcester lies 7 miles to the south-east. The nearest villages are Martley and Hallow, both of which offer primary schools. The Chantry at Martley is the local secondary school.