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Kidderminster in 1839

KIDDERMINSTER, a corporate town and parliamentary borough, in the hundred of Halfshire and county of Worcester. It is situated on the Stour, near the confluence of that river with the Severn ; 124 miles north-west by north from London. According to Nash (Hist. of Worcestershire) the name of this place was anciently written Chiderminster, a term which has reference to the church on the brow of a hill and the water running beneath. At the time of the Conquest it was the king’s property, and it remained with the crown until the reign of Henry II, who gave the manor to Manser, his favourite. At a subsequent period it became the property of Waller, the poet, by whom it was sold in 1643-4 in order to pay his fine to parliament on account of what was called Waller’s plot. Kidderminster returned members to parliament as early as the 28 Edward I, but owing to disuse the privilege was afterwards lost. By the Reform Act it was again erected into a parliamentary borough, and now returns one member. The earliest charter of incorporation is that of 12 Charles I, but as it conferred upon the corporate body no power to acquire landed property, or to augment the number of magistrates, which was limited to two, they obtained from the crown in 1828 a new charter, which is now the governing charter, and bears date 7th August, 8 George IV. The council consists of a mayor, six alderman, and eighteen councillors.

The town is well lighted, watched, and paved under the superintendence of commissioners appointed by a local act, and the expense is defrayed by a rate. The annual value of the real property of the borough in 1815 was estimated at £13,960 ; the assessed taxes in 1831 amounted to £1,929, and the parochial assessments for the same year to £4,586. The prosperity of the town appears to be gradually increasing; it possesses considerable trade and a large manufacture of carpets. The church is a handsome Gothic structure surmounted by a fine tower : the interior contains many altar-tombs, brasses, and other ancient monuments, for a particular description of which we refer the reader to Nash’s History of Worcestershire, London, 1782, fol., ii., 48. The living is a vicarage in the patronage of Lord Foley, and has an average net income of £1,107. At the east end of the church is a Gothic chapel which was formerly, and we believe still is. appropriated to the use of the free grammar-school. This charity was founded prior to the charter of Charles I. The rental of the estates belonging to the school amounts to £491, 19 shillings, 1 penny per annum, in addition to which there are two houses for the use of the upper and lower masters, erected in 1805 at an expense of £1,800. The school is divided into an upper and lower school, and the practice now is to take all boys who wish to learn Latin into the upper school. In the lower school the boys are instructed in reading, writing, and accounts, but not Latin. The salary of the upper master is £290 and that of the under master £145 per annum. Notwithstanding the ample endowment of this foundation, it has hitherto been of comparatively little advantage to the town. In 1835 there were but six boys in the upper school, and the average number that attended the lower school was only fifteen. Besides the free school there are several almshouses and other benevolent institutions. The population of the town in 1831 was 14,981, having been augmented by 4,272 persons during the 20 years preceding, which is to be ascribed chiefly to the flourishing state of the manufactures during that period. The population of the parish is 20,865.