Billing’s Directory and Gazetteer of 1855 describes the village of Broadway, Worcestershire, as follows:
Broadway is a very large village and parish, situate about 6 miles S.E. from Evesham, in the Upper Division of the Hundreds of Pershore. The village is about a mile in length, and the houses built principally of stone. During the good old coaching days, Broadway was a place of considerable note, having been one of the “stages” on the road from Oxford to London1, but since the introduction of the “rail” into the country it has lost much of its briskness, and has settled down in to a very quiet place, many of the chief inns being closed. The population in 1851 was 1629 inhabitants, being 58 less than in 1841.
The Church, dedicated to St Eadburgha, is an antiquated stone building, with square turreted tower, standing nearly in the centre. This building is only used in the summer months, it being a considerable distance from the village, and a new modern edifice2 has been erected, at the bottom end of the village, of a modern and chaste design. Rev. Samuel Franklin, Vicar; Mr David Brown, Organist; Mr John Tustin3, Clerk. Service 11am and 3pm.
The Congregational Chapel is a neat stone erection, in the centre of the village, built in 1843. Rev. William Pike, Minister. Service 10.30am and 3pm.
The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is a small building, also situate in the centre of the village. No stated Minister. Service 11am and 3pm alternately.
On the left of the village, and a short distance from the main road, is a Catholic Chapel4, of a most unique and chaste design, adjoining which is a Monastery of Retreat, occupied by a certain number of devotees belonging to the Catholic persuasion. The edifice is erected in a similar style to the chapel, and possesses many architectural beauties in perfect unison with that building. Rev. John Bernard, Father of the Retreat.
There is a Free School, endowed in 1686 by Mr Thomas Hedges, for the education of twenty poor boys. Mr William Davis, Master.
The National School for boys and girls, is supported by contributions and the children’s payments. Sarah Ann Hegecock, Mistress. Average number of scholars – boys, 15; girls 25.
There is a School attached to the Catholic Chapel, wherein children ae instructed by inmates of the Retreat.
The Police Station is at the top of the village. Richard Ball, Sergeant.
Post Office – Mr William Davis, Sub-Postmaster. Arrival 9am; despatch Worcester and the North 5.45pm; London 5pm.
Coach– Cheltenham, Stephens, Tues, Thurs, and Sat 8am.
Carriers – Cheltenham, Vizzard5 from own house, Thurs and Sat 7.30am. Evesham, Clarke6 from own house, Mon 9.40am. Stratford-on-Avon, Vizzard from own house, Fri 7.30am.
1. On Monday 16th September 2019, David Ella will be giving an illustrated talk entitled ‘On the Way to London, old routes across the North Cotswolds and Vale of Evesham’ in the Lifford Memorial Hall starting at 7pm. All welcome.
2. St Michael and All Angels’ Church
3. John Tustin, Parish Clerk, farmer and Registrar of Births and Deaths, his son John was the village boot and shoe maker.
4. St Saviour’s, Leamington Road (previously known as Willersey Road).
5. Reuben Vizzard, carrier and shopkeeper.
6. Thomas Clarke, carrier and farmer.
Isaac Averill, was known as the ‘Gentleman of Broadway’. He was born in Broadway on 21st August 1830, the oldest son of Isaac Blakeman Averill JP (for Worcestershire and Gloucestershire) and Mary (née Osborne) of Broadway. Isaac had 12 siblings. His family were wealthy farmers having farmed several hundred acres in and around Broadway for over 300 years.
Broadway Parish records show that there have been Averills (surname also spelt Averell or Avery) in the village since the early 1600s and that Isaac was descended from the marriage of John Averell and Alice Hawkes which took place in Broadway on 2nd November 1602.
Isaac grew up in Broadway at South View House, 46 High Street. The house had been rebuilt in 1804 and was also later known as Broad Close. He was educated locally before attending Cheltenham College as a day pupil from 1842 to 1847. After leaving school went to work for 15 months for Mr Roberts in Waterperry, east of Oxford, to gain farming experience. Following his return to Broadway, Isaac went on to farm at Gorse Hill Farm, Clump Farm, Collin Farm and Home Farm, farming several hundred acres of farmland he had inherited on the death of his father in 1858.
46 High Street, Broadway
Aged 30, he married his cousin Sarah Averill (born in Broadway c1827), the daughter of his Uncle Stephen Averill JP of Broadway, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Isaac and Sarah were married on 15th December 1860 at St Andrew’s Church, Holborn, in London.
Isaac was an active member of Broadway’s community and described Broadway as an “old fashioned village, healthy and attractive”. He was a Magistrate (Chairman of the Evesham County Bench), County Councillor and a Parish Councillor from 1855. In 1857 he was appointed Highway Surveyor and he organised the installation of the fence along the bottom of the village green to preserve the green from damage from passing carriages. He was also Chairman of the Gas Company, a Guardian of the Poor and one of the managers of the Samaritan Club.
In 1860 following the death of his Uncle Stephen, Isaac was made a magistrate for Worcestershire and in 1862 he was appointed a JP for Gloucestershire. He regularly attended the sessions at nearby Chipping Campden. He was also appointed Deputy-Lieutenant for Worcestershire and after just losing in the first County Council elections, coming second to Thomas Byrd by 40 votes, the County Council elected him as an Alderman.
The Lectern donated by Isaac Averill to St Michael’s Church, Broadway
Isaac was elected a member of the Sanitary Authority for Broadway in 1875. In the early 1870s, following several outbreaks of cholera and typhoid, local authorities were required to provide clean public water supplies and Sanitary Authorities were set up across the country. Isaac purchase the rights to a supply of spring water (located at the top of the village) and gifted the rights to the District Council for the village’s use before Evesham Corporation acquired it.
He took a great interest in the Broadway Mutual Aid Club and was a churchwarden of St Michael’s Church for over 30 years, presenting the church with its brass lecturn in 1899. Isaac also took an active role in the restoration of St Eadburgha’s Church.
On 28th April 1895, a dinner was held in his honour in recognition of his services to the village. The dinner was hosted by the George Coventry, 9th Earl of Coventry, and attended by Lord Lifford, Lieut.-General Henry Fanshawe Davies, JP, DL (of Elmley Castle), the Reverend Francis A. Morgan (Vicar of St Michael’s Church), Reverend S. Clarke and Edgar Flower2. Isaac was presented with a silver cup inscribed with the following wording:
Presented to Isaac Averill, Esq., by his numerous friends in the parish of Broadway and neighbourhood as a mark of their esteem and appreciation of his long and untiring service devoted to the interests of Broadway and district.
He retired as Chairman of Evesham Board of Guardians in 1901 after 40 years’ service on the Board. He had been first elected as Guardian of Broadway in 1861 and after 5 years was appointed a member of the Evesham Board. During his time on the Board he was in charge of building a new chapel and a hospital for the Evesham Union Workhouse (in 1870).
Isaac was also a keen sportsman. He hunted with the North Cotswold for many years and was involved in the building of the hunt kennels and stables in the village in the 1860s. He was also a founding father of Broadway Golf Club (1895) and a member of Broadway Cricket Club and Lawn Tennis Club. In 1897 he gave some of the land he owned opposite South View (Broad Close), adjacent to Keyte’s Lane, to Broadway Fire Brigade1 so that a new engine house could be built which was completed the following spring.
During his lifetime Isaac was interested in his family’s history and had records of his family dating back to the early 1500s. His Uncle Stephen, was a good friend of Sir Thomas Phillipps of Middle Hill and in 1899 Stephen Averill enlisted Thomas’s help along with Reverend Morgan, who held the Averill’s family register, to try and trace his ancestors. Isaac was keen to find out whether his family was related to William Averell, a Quaker, from Kent, who had fled England for America and settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in early 1637. No direct link was made by Isaac and Stephen Averill at the time, however, some references can be found today that possibly link a distant branch of Isaac’s family to the Society of Friends (Quakers) who settled on the east coast of the United States.
Isaac’s wife, Sarah died in 1901 after a period of ill health and it is reported that Isaac never recovered from her death. He died at home in Broadway four years later on 5th July 1905. He left his effects in his will to his nephews Stephen and George Averill. Isaac and Sarah are buried in St Eadburgha’s Churchyard with Isaac’s parents in the family grave.
When the allotments off the Leamington Road were built on in the mid 1980s, one of the roads in the new housing development was called ‘Averill Close’ after the Averill family.
The Averill Family Grave, St Eadburgha’s Churchyard, Broadway
Averill Family Plaque in St Michael’s Church, Broadway
Edgar Flower (1833-1905) gifted a supply of spring water from the Middle Hill Estate, Broadway, in 1881, which supplied a reservoir in Childswickham and was piped to Evesham. Further reading: www.badseysociety.uk
Broadway Parish Records
The Worcestershire Archives
The School Registers of Cheltenham College
Earl Coventry Builds a Beacon Tower above Broadway
The site of Broadway Tower was common land until about 1771. The enclosure of Common land granted this to Sir George William, the 6th Earl of Coventry, who owned nearby Spring Hill House as well as Croome Court in Pershore.
In October 1797, Admiral Duncan, later Earl Camperdown, won a naval victory over the Dutch at Camperdown (north of Haarlem). In celebration a bonfire was lit on Broadway Beacon Hill with fireworks and other events organised by Thomas Coventry, youngest son of Lord Coventry. The Countess of Coventry was so impressed that she persuaded Lord Coventry to erect a tower there. Plans for an ornamental folly were initially discussed with Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (who had designed the parkland surrounding Spring Hill) and the project was completed in 1799 by the architect James Wyatt after Brown’s death. The 65 foot Beacon Tower with its saxon castle design stands at 1024 feet above sea-level, the highest little castle in the Cotswolds.
Sir Thomas Phillipps and the Broadway Printing Press
Following the 6th Earl’s death, John Coventry, his second son, inherited the Tower and surrounding land. In the 1820s it was sold to the eccentric bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps who owned the nearby Middle Hill Estate. Thomas used the Tower from 1827 to house his printing press but during his ownership he neglected the building and it fell into disrepair.
In 1837 the vantage point of Broadway Tower was again used as a site for a Beacon Bonfire. On 20th June 1837, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, an evening procession from the village ended with a bonfire at Broadway Beacon, one of 2,548 bonfires lit across the country to celebrate the Jubilee.
Gloves and Famous Visitors
Thomas Phillipps ceased to use the Tower after his move to Cheltenham in 1863. It is recorded that the Tower was used by glove makers for a while before 1866 when Cormell Price took out a lease on the building as a holiday home for himself and his friends. The location of the Tower with its wonderful views attracted many visitors including the English artist and designer Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. It is believed that in 1876 William Morris wrote a letter from Broadway Tower which led to the formation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings by William Morris and Philip Webb in 1877. Cormell Price, known affectionately by his friends as the ‘Knight of Broadway Tower’, and the Stanley family, reluctantly left the Tower after 11 years when Cormell gave up his tenancy in September 1878, after the death of Thomas Phillipps.
The Tower during the Second World War
About 1930, still under the ownership of the Middle Hill Estate, the Hollington family moved in as tenant famers. Mr and Mrs Hollington brought up their family there, cooking on a portable stove and climbing the winding stairs by candlelight as there was no electric light or gas. During the Second World War, whilst tenanted by Mr Hollington (who had joined the Observer Corps), the Tower was used as a look out post to map enemy aircraft.
On 2nd June 1943, a Whitley bomber on a training mission from Honeybourne airfield, crashed next to the tower in poor visibility. The crew: Pilot HG Hagen, Sgt EG Ekins, Flt Sgt DH Kelly, Sgt DA Marriott and Sgt RS Phillips all lost their lives in the crash.
Broadway Tower and the Royal Observation Corps
Broadway Tower remained part of the Middle Hill Estate until 1949 when on the death of Miss Emily Georgina Hingley it was offered to the National Trust as a gift. The Trust declined and the Tower subsequently passed to the Dulverton Batsford Estates when it was rescued by the Hon. Frederick Anthony Wills, 2nd Baron Dulverton of Batsford (1915-1992).
In 1950, following the Second World War, a new above ground concrete slab observation post, known as an Orlit A, was built. It was a very basic structure consisting of two small, separate rooms, equipped with little more than a telephone line that connected the men that manned the post to the regional control centre.
During the ‘Cold War’, a secret Royal Observer Corps nuclear bunker was built in 1961 approximately 180 metres from the Tower. As part of a larger network of 1,653 bunkers around the country, it served as an early warning system – built to study the effects of radioactive fallout from a nuclear attack. It was manned continuously from 1961, up until it’s decommissioning in 1991 at the end of the Cold War. The bunker has since been restored and is open to the public on certain weekends of the year.
Broadway Tower Today
During Lord Dulverton’s ownership the land surrounding the Tower was developed in to a Country Park with its own herd of red deer and the Tower was converted in to a Museum.
The grounds and the Tower, with its wonderful views across up to 16 counties, are now in the ownership of the Will family and are open to the public most days.
Sir Thomas Phillipps, collector of the largest collection of privately owned books in the world, was born at 32 Cannon Street, Manchester, on 2nd July 1792. He was baptised later the same month in Manchester Cathedral. Thomas was the son of Thomas Phillipps, senior partner of Phillipps, Lowe and Company, calico manufacturers and printers of Cannon Street, Manchester. Thomas’s mother, Hannah Judd (née Walton), from Yorkshire, played no part in his upbringing. Although Thomas spent the first few years of his life in Manchester.
Thomas’s paternal grandparents lived near Broadway. His grandfather, William Phillipps, who had been born in London in 1700, farmed several hundred acres in the area surrounding Broadway, Childswickham and Buckland. William’s father, John, had been renting farmland in the area from Lord Coventry since 1706. Thomas’s grandmother, Mary (née Cotterell), was born in 1713, the only daughter of Edward Cotterell of Saintbury. William died in 1771 and wife, Mary, died in 1800. Mary is buried in the churchyard at St Barnabas Church, Snowshill, Gloucestershire.
The Middle Hill Estate, Broadway
When Thomas’s father retired in 1794 he purchased Middle Hill, Broadway, a large house, built in 1724, set in several hundred of acres above the village beneath Broadway Tower. The family moved in to the Middle Hill estate in 1796 where the young Thomas started his collection of books. Thomas spent all of his pocket money on books and by the age of six had already collected over 110 books.
Thomas was firstly educated by Richard Careless, school teacher of Broadway. He went on to Rugby School before studying at University College, Oxford, for four years obtaining his BA in 1815. It was at Oxford that Thomas continued to collect rather than merely research and catalogue old books and manuscripts. His hobby proved to be expensive in both time and money. Thomas needed a private tutor to help him prepare for examinations and although he was given access to an annual income of £6000 upon the death of his father on 1st November 1818, the Middle Hill estate was left in trust so that it could not be sold to further expand Thomas’s growing collection.
In 1819 Thomas married Henrietta Elizabeth Molyneux, third daughter of Major General Thomas Molyneux and they had three daughters, Henrietta (born 1819), Sophia (1821) and Katharine (1829). In 1820 Thomas was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and made a baronet in the following year in the George IV Honours aided by his father-in-law’s association with the Duke of Beaufort. In 1825 Thomas was elected High Sheriff of Worcestershire, a post his father had held in 1801.
Thomas Phillipps’s Broadway Tower Printing Press
From 1822, Thomas started to copy, commission and print transcripts of historical documents and following his purchase of Broadway Tower in 1827, he established a private printing press at Broadway Tower. Publications printed on the Broadway Tower press often carry a stencilled crest of a lion with ‘Sir T. P. /Middle Hill’ and the manuscript number added by hand below. Thomas’s obsession with books and manuscripts meant that from this point onwards he was in debt for the rest of his life. To cut costs he was forced to move to Europe (between 1822-1829), yet this enabled him to have access to manuscripts of leading continental scholars, for example, Gerard Meerman, the Dutch typographic historian (1722-1771), and it did little to curb Thomas’s spending habits.
In 1839 Thomas became acquainted with James Orchard Halliwell, a young undergraduate and Shakespearean scholar who had written to him requesting historical information. In exchange for an examination of the Cambridge libraries, Thomas printed a catalogue of scientific manuscripts that had been assembled by Halliwell and invited him to stay at Middle Hill in 1842. There, James Halliwell fell in love with Thomas’s eldest daughter Henrietta and despite initially agreeing a dowry James and Thomas fell out. The young couple were forced to elope and they married in August 1842. Thomas never forgave his daughter. He shunned numerous attempts at reconciliation with the couple and chose to criticise and deny his son-in-law at every opportunity.
Thomas’s first wife, Henrietta, died in 1832, aged 37. In 1848 he secondly married Elizabeth Harriet Anne Mansel, daughter of the Reverend William Mansel (Rector of Eldesborough, Buckinghamshire, and the son of Sir William Mansel, Bt). Thomas continued to expand his collection of books and manuscripts which attracted scholars from all over the world to Middle Hill including the American historians William H Prescott and Jared Sparks, the American painter and author George Catlin and the English born Australian landscape artist John Glover (Thomas was a patron of John Glover and George Catlin).
The Move to Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham
Throughout the 1850s Thomas became preoccupied with what should happen to his collection after his death which by then took up 16 of the 20 rooms at Middle Hill. He had so little room in his bedroom that he slept for many years on a sofa in the drawing room and the dining room was kept locked except for mealtimes. Discussions held with Oxford University fell through when Thomas proposed in return that he should become chief librarian of the Bodleian Library. In 1861, he accepted an invitation to become a trustee of the British Museum but he then refused them access to the collection when his recommendations for improvements at the Museum were not adopted. The Middle Hill estate remained promised to Henrietta despite her marriage, yet Thomas was adamant that his collection would not be inherited by her husband, James.
Thomas moved to Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham (now owned by Cheltenham College) in 1863 which also gave him more space to house his collection. It took two years, 230 horses and 160 men to transport the 60,000 manuscripts and 30,000 books to the new site where he continued to collect, catalogue and entertain leading academics until his death on 6th February 1872. His wife, Elizabeth, also died the same year.
Thomas was buried in the churchyard at St Eadburga’s Church, Snowshill Road, Broadway. Thirlestaine House and its contents, including 60,000 manuscripts and 50,000 printed books, were left in trust for his youngest daughter, Katherine, with a life interest for her third son, Thomas Fitzroy Fenwick. The Halliwell family and all Roman Catholics were to be banned from entering the library which was to remain intact. However, by 1885, the Fenwicks could no longer afford to maintain the house and collection and so acquired judicial approval to disperse its contents. Manuscripts were sold in groups to private collectors and foreign governments and there were a series of auctions at Sotheby’s. In 1946, the remaining collection was acquired by Lionel and Philip Robinson, antiquarian booksellers of London, who continued to disperse the manuscripts at further auctions at Sotheby’s and through their own retail catalogues. Between 1977-1983, they sold what was left of their holdings to H.P. Kraus, dealers of New York.
Talk on Sir Thomas Phillipps, Monday 21st October in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Broadway
On Monday 21st October 2019, the Society looks forward to welcoming Gerard Molyneux, the great great great grandson of Sir Thomas Phillipps to give a talk on his bibliophile relative. The talk will take place in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm. Talks are free to members (membership £10 p.a), non-members are very welcome £3 on the door.
Following the Annual General Meeting held on Monday 20th May 2019, the Society has released its Programme of Events for 2019/20. The meetings resume on Monday 16th September 2019 with an illustrated talk entitled ‘On the Way to London’ by David Ella on the coaching routes across the North Cotswolds, through Broadway and the Vale of Evesham.
David’s talk will start at 7pm on the 16th September and will be held in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway.
The Annual General Meeting of Broadway History Society will take place on Monday 20th May 2019 in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm. Copies of the Agenda and Annual Accounts can be obtained from the Society’s Hon. Secretary, Nigel Smith, and will be available on the night.
County Flag of Worcestershire
After the AGM, starting around 7.30pm, there will be a light hearted quiz on Worcestershire hosted by Robin Hill. A small prize will be awarded to the winning team. The hall will be set up with tables and chairs and it is suggested that Members (and any quiz loving friends they wish to bring along) make up teams of 4 for the quiz.
A complimentary glass of wine and snacks will be served after the AGM. All are welcome to join us for the AGM and the quiz.
The next meeting of the Broadway History Society takes place on Monday 18th March 2019 starting at 7pm in the Main Hall, Lifford Memorial Hall, with an illustrated talk by Dr Nick Humphries on Chedworth Roman Villa. Chedworth is now managed by the National Trust.
All welcome to attend the meeting. Non-members £3 on the door. Refreshments will be served at the end of the meeting.