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Pitchers Hill, Wickhamford – over 450 years of history

The A44 road through Wickhamford has an interesting story to tell.  This was a turnpike road probably established as such in the 1700s.  The section through the parish now called ‘Pitchers Hill’ runs between the Sandys Arms and the village boundary at the Murcot Turn.  At the time of the 1901 census this road was recorded as ‘Broadway Road’, but for the 1911 census, houses on this road were down as being on Pitchers Hill.

The name occurs earlier in time on maps of the parish as a field to the South of the road.   When the Wickhamford Estate was put up for sale in 1869, Pitchers Hill was an arable field of just under 20 acres and beyond was Pitchers Hill Rough, a pasture of nearly 6 acres.  On the North side of road was a 20-acre pasture called Pitchers Hill Close.  The latter was part of The Elms Farm and the former were part of Pitchers Hill Farm (now Wickham Farm).

Going back further to the Wickhamford Manorial Court records of 23rd October 1632, a reference was made to Pitchers Hill as a piece of land.  Earlier, in the lease of the Manor to Thomas Sponer in 1565 there occurs the statement, concerning provisos of what the lease does not include  -

"It also excepts 'the meadow or pasture called Kenell, now in the holding of the customary tenants......lying between the brook there and the said arable lands called Kenell, a parcel of land containing eighteen acres at Prestemede, the land and pasture called Pytchers Hill and Stokehay, two furlongs called Badsey Crofts...........and the moiety of the fish and fishing of the said great pool"

At that time the spelling was Pytchers Hill, so the name goes back over 450 years.  But where does the name Pitcher or Pytcher originate?   The most likely explanation is that it derives from a surname, but the name does not occur in any of the Wickhamford Parish baptism, marriage and burial registers, which began in 1538 for baptisms and burials and 1556 for marriages.

Church records for the area have a ‘Picher’ in Worcester in 1626 and a ‘Pitchar’ in Pershore in 1665, but nothing nearer Wickhamford.   There are reported to be two possible origins of the name.  There was a ‘Pytcher’ in Buckinghamshire just after the Norman conquest, the origin of name being from either from the French Pichere or from the occupation of caulking ships planking.

The Lay Subsidy Rolls of 1280 and 1332/33 for Wickhamford survive, but the names do not include anyone with a Pitcher or similar surname.  The origin the name in the village remains a mystery for the present.

Tom Locke  July 2019

Acknowledgements:  Peter Stewart provided details of early church records for the Pitcher name and Ian Gibson located the information on the origin of the surname.