A brief history of Badby

Saxon Badby

Several early Saxon Boundary Charters describe Badby estate boundaries. Around 726 the land was given by a Saxon sheriff to the Abbey of Croyland; however, around 871 Beorred seized it back and gave it to his army officers to secure their services against the invading Danes. In a 944 Charter an estate covering Dodford, Everdon and Badby-with-Newnham was granted by King Edmund I to Bishop Aelfric of Hereford. In 948, following Edmund's murder, the estate returned to Croyland. In 1006 Abbot Godric II of Croyland leased Badby for 100 years to Norman, son of Leofwine, Earl of Leicester, to buy protection against the threatening Danes.

Norman was killed in 1016 following the Danish invasion in 1013 under King Sweyn. King Canute thus acquired Badby and later transferred it to Norman's brother, the Earl Leofric of Mercia. He in turn gave the lordship of the manor of Badby and Newnham to the Benedictine Abbey of Evesham, for the remainder of the 100-year lease granted by Abbot Godric II of Croyland.

Norman Badby

In the Domesday Book of 1086, Badby is listed under the lands owned by Croyland Abbey (without reference to the lease to Evesham). The Badby entry reads:

II Land of Crowland Church.
...in Budby 4 hides. Landfor 10 ploughs; 8 male and 5 female slaves; 12 villagers and 8 smallholders with 6 ploughs. A mill at 2s; meadow 28 acres; woodland 4 furlongs long and 2 furlongs wide. Value was and is £8

The £8 value for Badby in the Domesday Book is high compared with other entries for the County. While King William held estates of high value (Fawsley £15), only 1 in 20/25 other estates had a value of £8 or over. The Woodland, from its measurement, is likely, but not certainly, Badby Wood.

Croyland Abbey burned down in 1091, destroying any possible deeds, and around 1124 the Abbot Joffrid of Croyland set about resolving with Evesham the ownership of Badby, the lease on which had ended. Joffrid concluded that Croyland had no claim and King Henry III confirmed retention by Evesham in 1246, confirmed again in 1330 by King Edward III after a court hearing.

Evesham Abbey and The Grange

From the twelfth century to 1539 Evesham Abbey was the greatest influence in Badby. The Abbot of Evesham held the Lordship of the Manor and Abbot Roger Norreys built a moated grange on land to the east of the present Park Close. There are several references to the building of the grange in the The Evesham Chronicle, referring to the building of noble, almost regal, houses “at Badby, where he [Norreys] feasted on delicacies with some of his brethren, and sometimes for a quarter of the year, and sometimes longer he would be staying”. Recent (1960s) excavations showed that a large “hall” existed. Oyster shells were also found! The Chronicles had worse to report: “He lived in a most courtly and sumptuous style, with a magnificent table, overflowing with food and drink in plenty, which he lavished liberally and generously, .for he was more drunken and excessive than any other English monk, and did not consider simple fornication to be a deadly sin, thus seducing women, unless adultery and incest were added, and it is said he showed no moderation in either of these.”

The Evesham Chronicle also mentions other periods of building at the moated site, which can be matched with other levels of the excavation – three bakehouses were added to the grange in the 1350s and its hall and chapel were renovated in the 1380s. It continued in a variety of uses after the dissolution of the abbey during the Protestant Reformation. The grange finally fell down in 1722 and the site is now a Scheduled Monument (List Entry Number: 1009844: Remains of a moated monastic retreat house, manorial courthouse and inn). It was the subject of archaeological excavations undertaken in 1965–69. Importantly, the pottery from the site is one of the major chronological dating series in the County.

Deer hunting was another monastic recreation and in 1246 King Henry III sanctioned the emparkment of Badby Wood. The banks and ditches of the Deer Park can still be traced.

Post-mediaeval times

With the decline of the Monastic life in the 14th century it became the practice for Evesham Abbey to lease out land in Badby. The Spencer family rented the “Manor” from 1451–71 and may well have carried out renovations marked on the plan. In 1530 they still held a lease on part of the Manor lands. This family is now associated with Althorpe. The second family, the Knightleys, who purchased Fawsley in 1416, was to influence Badby for the next five hundred years; they took over land in Badby and the use of the Deer Park which they joined to Fawsley.

From 1539, Henry VIII carried through the Dissolution of the Monasteries. A Royal Commissioners document from 1540 lists the tenants of both Badby and Newnham and gives the values of rents for: houses, cottages, wind and water mills, meadows, strips of land in the open fields and bake houses. It shows that the Knightley family rented Badby Wood at £6 per annum before the Dissolution. By 1542 the Lordship of the Manor of Badby has been granted to the Knightley family and the long dominance of this family began.

A commission visited Badby to formalise the change from the old Open Field System to the new Enclosed Fields (ending the practice of a holder working a number of strips of land, often widely separated in the Open Fields). The details collected by the Commission led to the Parliamentary Enclosure Act of 1779 for Badby. It included a map and lists of properties with names and other details.

(Source: Parish 2000 Badby Appraisal and other sources, including Wikipedia)

Last updated 3 March 2018