About Bredon's Norton
Population: 200 (approx.)
Latitude: 52° 2'59.29" N
Longitude: 2° 6'4.81" W
The first recorded evidence of settlement in the area is in the Domesday Book in 1086 which records settlement and farming at an estate known as "Nortune", meaning north farm or north settlement. This early settlement would most likely have comprised a number of scattered farmsteads of family groups farming independently and probably trading produce.
The availability of a supply of fresh water from the springs emerging from Bredon Hill, and the proximity of fertile land and the Avon River, were likely reasons for settlement at this location.
By the early 12th Century, the Manor of Bredons Norton was held by the Bishop of Worcester. The earliest surviving building in the present day Village is Bredons Norton Church, heavily restored by the Victorians, but dating from the late 12th Century. It was built as a Chapel of Ease for the main Parish Church of St Giles, Bredon, suggesting by this time there was an established centre of settlement at Bredons Norton.
Settlements were by now evolving from the scattering of farmsteads that characterised Roman and early Saxon settlement pattern to farming communities centred on villages. Churches were the focus of these new neighbourhoods, and Bredons Norton Church would probably have been at the heart of this early Middle Age community, where today it remains in the Centre of the Village.
Churches were the focus of these new communities. The Church of St Giles would probably have been at the heart of this early Middle Age community at Bredon’s Norton. It remains geographically placed in the centre of the village.
Source: Bredon’s Norton Conservation Area document
The village has several pretty timber-framed cottages (called cruck cottages due to their construction) and a 12th century thatched tithe barn (now a home) where it is claimed William Shakespeare acted on his Barn Storming Tour.
There is a 14th Century Manor House where it is reputed Sir Walter Raleigh was a regular visitor and, higher on the hill, is Norton Park, formerly the home of the only American woman to be nominated for the presidency of the USA - Victoria Woodhull. An activist for women's rights and labour reforms, Woodhull was also an advocate of free love, by which she meant the freedom to marry, divorce and bear children without government interference.
One notable resident in more recent times was Sir Raymond Priestley, the Antarctic explorer and veteran of both Shackleton (Nimrod) and Scott (Terra Nova) polar expeditions who lived in Bredon's Norton from 1952 until his death in 1974.
Further Reading: A biography of Sir Raymond Priestly called "Priestly's Progress" has recently been published. The author is Mike Bullock and the book is available in both hard copy and electronic formats.
Bredon’s Norton is also the birthplace of a man who altered the face of the county and the eating habits of the nation.
Sir Thomas Copley sailed with Sir Walter Raleigh to the New World and brought back the potato which replaced the parsnip as the main staple carbohydrate on the dinner table.
Copley introduced the new vegetable to his native Vale of Evesham where it became a popular crop on farms and smallholdings and played a central role in the development of the market gardening industry which continues to dominate the area.
Copley also introduced tobacco to the county and the Vale was England's main producer for the next 70 years.
The variety grown had a particularly narcotic quality and excited the attention of the diarist Samuel Pepys who wrote about it.