Noake's Worcestershire Page 253


mainly to Evesham Abbey, and of course at the Dissolution fell into private hands. In the days of Queen Bess, Middle Littleton was a chapelry to one of the other places, and fifty families were located in them all. Now the combined population is about 600, with an entire acreage of 2,395. The soil seems particularly favourable for wheat, which is almost invariably grown every other year, the intermediate crop being generally beans. Good hops are grown in South Littleton Manor Farm. Stone walls, and cottages of the same material, instead of hedges and brick, abound here, in consequence of the abundance of stone procurable in the neighbourhood. Agriculture, stone-quarrying, and gloving, form the employment of the people.

Great attractions are presented in these parishes to the antiquary. First; the Icknield Street (corrupted here into Buckle Street) forms the eastern as the river Avon does the western boundary of both parishes. Then there are the two churches, full of interest, yet sadly in want of restoration; indeed that of South Littleton must be rebuilt if touched at all. There is late Norman, Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular work in its walls, Norman doorways and font, massive old oak seats, two "squints," old glazed tiles, triangular-headed piscina with stone shelf, curious carving over the priest's door, &c. The other church is chiefly of Early English date, cruciform, with Perpendicular chapel, has the sanctus-bell turret still left on the ridge of its roof, with the groove through which the rope passed, and the bell itself hangs at the National School, though unused; here also are excellent and handsomely-carved old wood seats, panels of rood-screen worked into reading desk, immense pew of rich Jacobean work, piscina with stone shelf, a squint, a Norman font, encaustic tiles, a chamber over the porch without access to it; churchyard cross nearly perfect; and as if this list of relics was not enough, close by the church is the ancient Littleton Manor Farm-house (now occupied by Mr. Robert Smith), and a noble tithe-barn of the fourteenth century, 150 feet long,