In 2019, an article was written about the origins of the name Pitchers Hill. In 2023, David Ella presented a talk at the Badsey Society on Worcestershire place names. He had found that the origin ‘Pitchers Hill’ could be traced back to Anglo-Saxon times and this article is now revised to include this information.
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.
Records from 1565-1869
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. 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.
Badsey and Wickhamford parishes were amongst the vale estates of Evesham Abbey since at least the 10th century. A charter dated AD7091 describes the borders of lands in the Vale of Evesham which were given to the Abbey by Kings Cendred and Offa.
A small section of the boundary in the AD709 charter includes this text in old English:
… a þurne per pichedesho in prestesmede …
This has been translated and interpreted2 by Anglo Saxon charter experts as:
… from thorn bush along pichedes hill spur, to priest’s meadow …
In another translation pichedesho is described as “pointed ridge”, and there can be little doubt that this is the origin of Pitchers Hill as we know it today.
- This charter was referenced as ‘S80’ by Sawyer. The date of AD709 is believed to be suspect, and the charter is likely to have been written perhaps 300 years later. However, the content is believed to be correct.
- Interpretation of the translated text is by Dr Della Hooke of Birmingham University.
The modern map below, with contour heights shaded, clearly shows the ridge of higher land referred to in the Anglo-Saxon document. The top of the ridge lies along the route of the A44 by White Chapel Farm and then lies slightly to the South of the road along the Pitchers Hill part.
Tom Locke, original article July 2019, revised May 2023
Thanks are due to David Ella for providing the Anglo-Saxon information which appears to answer the question as to the origin of the name Pitchers Hill.