Tutbury

Extract from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Transcribed by Mel Lockie, © Copyright 2010
Lewis Topographical Dictionaries

TUTBURY, a parish (formerly a market-town) in the northern division of the hundred of OFFLOW, county of STAFFORD, 5 miles (N.W. by N.) from Burton upon Trent, containing, according to the last census, 1444 inhabitants, since which the population has considerably increased. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Stafford, and diocese of Lichfield and Coventry rated in the king's books at £7, endowed with £400 private benefaction, £200 royal bounty, and £300 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Vicar of Bakewell The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is the nave of a more extensive structure, and a fine specimen of the Norman style of architecture; it has lately been enlarged, new pewed, and greatly improved, at an expense of nearly £2000, about one half of which was contributed by his Majesty, by the Society for enlarging churches and chapels, and by the nobility and gentry of the neighbourhood: three hundred and seventy of the sittings are free. There are places of worship for Independents, and Calvinistic, Primitive, and Wesleyan Methodists.

Tutbury, situated on the west bank of the river Dove; which is crossed by a stone bridge of five arches, of recent erection, was, at a very early period, erected into a free borough, and possessed1 many valuable privileges, though it never had the right of sending members to parliament. It had a good market, which gradually declined, as that of Burton increased, till at length it was discontinued altogether; but there are still fairs for horses and cattle, on February 14th, August 15th, and December 1st.

On the river are extensive corn and cotton-spinning mills, formerly belonging to an establishment styled the "Tutbury Mill Company", now to John Webb, Esq.; there is also a considerable cut-glass manufactory. A free school was founded, by Richard Wakefield, who, about 1730, endowed it with lands producing about £50 per annum, for the education of poor children: the schoolhouse was rebuilt in 1789. Richard Wakefield also, by his will in 1773, devised land and tithes, now producing about £450, to trustees, for charitable uses.

The king, as Duke of Lancaster, is lord of the manor, or honour, of Tutbury, the jurisdiction of which extends over a great portion of Staffordshire, and into several of the neighbouring counties, via, those of Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, and Warwick; and, in his Majesty's name, courts leet and baron are here held once a year; also a court of pleas, every third Tuesday, for the recovery of all debts under 40s., contracted within the honour.

On the division of lands after the Conquest, Tutbury was included in the domain allotted to Henry de Ferrars, a Norman nobleman, who either built the castle, or received it in gift from the Conqueror. His descendant, Robert, joining Leicester in the rebellion against Henry III., was fined £50,000, and, being unable to pay so large a sum, forfeited his castle to the king, who granted it to his son Edmund of Lancaster.

After the attainder of Thomas of Lancaster, who, with the Earl of Hereford, had attempted the dethronement of Edward II., the fortress was suffered to fall to ruin, and so remained till 1350, when John of Gaunt becoming its possessor, he rebuilt the greater part of it, with the gatehouse, and surrounded it on three sides by a wall: the precipitous declivity on the fourth rendering further security unnecessary. Mary, Queen of Scots, was for some time imprisoned in this castle; and, at the commencement of the parliamentary war, it was garrisoned for the king; but, by order of the parliament, it was nearly demolished in 1646: the ruins, however, are still sufficient to indicate its former extent and magnificence, and exhibit good specimens of the early and later styles of English architecture.

On the declivity of the commanding eminence upon which the castle stood, a Benedictine priory, in honour of the Blessed Virgin, was founded, in 1080, by Henry, de Ferrars, which, though a cell to the abbey of St. Peter super Divam, in Normandy, survived till the general dissolution, when its revenue was valued at £244. 16. 8. Among other curious customs that formerly prevailed here was a minstrel fete, given by the Duke of Lancaster on Assumption-day, to which all the itinerant musicians of the neighbourhood were invited, but the quarrels which almost invariably took place on the occasion rendered it necessary to make certain regulations to preserve order; a king of the minstrels was, in consequence, elected, and, on the morrow of the festival, a court was held to determine all disputes, and cases of assault and battery, that might have arisen during the fete.

There was also a sport termed "Bull running", which consisted in chasing a bull with a soaped tail, and, if caught in the county, he was conducted to the marketplace and there baited, otherwise he remained the property of the Duke of Devonshire, who held the priory on condition of furnishing a bull annually for the purpose; his Grace has, however, compounded with the minstrel king and his subjects, and the bailiff, having purchased his right to the animal, sends him to the manor at Hardwick, for a Christmas feast to the poor. The country between Tutbury and Needwood Forest abounds with alabaster. Ann Moore, who professed the ability to live without food, resided here during the period of her imposture.

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