Another recent addition to the Badsey Archive is paperwork concerning the Pastoral Scheme for Badsey and Wickhamford churches which was confirmed at the Court at Buckingham Palace on 26th June 1996. Until 1980, the ecclesiastical benefices of Badsey with Aldington and Wickhamford were held in plurality. They then became one united benefice, but continued to retain their individual Parochial Church Councils and financial control. However, changes were afoot and correspondence began in the early 1990s. As a result of the new Pastoral Scheme, Wickhamford was separated from Badsey. Two new benefices were created: the United Benefice of Badsey with Aldington, Offenham and Bretforton and the United Benefice of Broadway with Wickhamford.
As a prelude to the discussions about the proposed new Pastoral Scheme, the Reverend Peter Mitchell, Vicar of Badsey with Aldington and Wickhamford, was asked to write a profile of the benefice which he did in January 1994.
I moved to Badsey in December 1993, so it has been fascinating to read this three-page profile of the village as it was when I moved in. Reverend Mitchell’s profile is recorded in full below.
Maureen Spinks, July 2023
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United Benefice of Badsey with Aldington and Wickhamford
The united benefice is just under 3 miles long from north to south and 3 miles across from east to west. It comprises of the ecclesiastical parishes of Badsey with Aldington, including Blackminster and Bowers hill and Wickhamford. The two parishes were previously held in plurality, until an Order in Council of October 1980 established the united benefice. The ecclesiastical parishes are virtually coterminous with the civil parishes of the same names, except that an area of Badsey and Aldington civil parish north of the Evesham-Oxford railway line, called The Parks, is in the ecclesiastical parish of Offenham, whilst certain parts of Offenham, south of the railway line at Blackminster, are in the ecclesiastical parish of Badsey with Aldington.
Aldington consists of a small hamlet to the NW of Badsey with a population of about 300, whilst the population of Badsey, including Blackminster and Bowers Hill is about 2,700. The population of Wickhamford is about 1000. Wickhamford remains a separate parish, although the majority of children attend the Badsey and Blackminster Schools and the schools in Evesham. The uniformed youth organisations, the Cubs, Beavers, Brownies, Guides and Scouts draw on both parishes. The total number of residential dwellings in the benefice numbers just over 1000.
There are two parish churches, one in Badsey and one in Wickhamford, both listed buildings. Badsey seats just on 200 whilst Wickhamford accommodates approximately 80. There is one stipendiary clergyman, vicar of the united benefice, one reader who will reach the age of 70 in 1994, and a small team of two lay assistants who assist with the chalice in Badsey. There are not NSMs and no active retired clergy in the benefice. Attempts to associate with the Evesham Council of Churches ecumenically have not been successful. There is a very good Sunday School in Badsey for 4-10 year-olds, with further opportunities for young people as helpers. This takes an active part in services such as Mothering Sunday, Harvest Festival Family Services, Christingle services, Carol Services and, when held, normal Family services. Combined services of Evensong between the parishes of Badsey, Wickhamford, Offenham and Bretforton on the 5th Sunday of the month have just been recommenced.
There is one county First school in Badsey with just over 220 children on roll. The Vicar is a Governor and says prayers at the weekly assembly. There are two large old peoples’ residential homes, one in Badsey at Seward House, and one in Wickhamford at Woodlands, each of which has about 28 residents. There is one smaller home in Aldington at Briarlea which has about 12 residents, all of whom are visited each month with house communions. In Badsey there are at least 100 elderly or housebound couples and roughly the same number in Wickhamford where about a third of the adult population are over 60.
Badsey has a Post Office and three shops (a VG store, a butcher’s and one smaller store) and Wickhamford has one Post Office. There are three public houses, two in Badsey and one in Wickhamford. Both parishes have a sports and social club, and Badsey has a large British Legion Club with both men and women’s sections. Badsey has an active Over 60s’ club and Wickhamford an equally active Friendship Club and Senior Citizens’ club. Both parishes enjoy adequate bus services into Evesham, and to other nearby towns such as Stratford and Cheltenham. There is also a bus service to Birmingham through Badsey.
There is a strong Mothers’ Union in Badsey which draws its members from throughout the benefice and a small but constant group of young people who serve at the communion services in each church. Sadly their numbers have declined of late due to several of them choosing to or having to work on Sundays. Both churches are in very good condition, all work due from previous quinquennial inspections having been completed, and work due on the most recent inspections, 1992 in Wickhamford and 1993 in Badsey already being put in hand.
There is an active Social Committee of younger members of the PCC in Badsey, led by the reader and the vicar, which organises the annual church Fete and other fund-raising functions which now raise almost £2,000 a year towards the quota payments. In Wickhamford, a similar amount is raised by the sale of cream teas throughout the summer months. Without these amounts neither parish would be financially viable. Wickhamford also hold a major Flower Festival every three years, which although still very successful, has to hold its own in an increasingly competitive market.
A major and well-planned development of both Badsey and Wickhamford took place in the early 1970s and this produced two very attractive and well-balanced villages, albeit different in size, but towards the end of the 1980s, much more haphazard development took place in Badsey, and this marred, rather than improved the village. Further development in three different areas of the village is still planned to take place at some unspecified date in the future.
Wickhamford has a uniform pattern of services, a 9.30 am Eucharist every Sunday of the month, except the 4th which is a 10.30 am Matins (previously a Family Service, which gradually dwindled to the point of extinction). Even now the regular Sunday congregation seldom rises above 20 other than at Easter, Christmas and Harvest, when there may be up to 40 or more. Badsey has a more broken pattern of services in the morning, an 11 am Sung Eucharist alternating with an 8 am Holy Communion with Evensong regularly at 6.30 pm every Sunday, except the 4th which is a Sung Eucharist. There is a faithful and consistent number of communicants at the 8 am service, but the 11 am Sung Eucharist is the least well supported, numbers seldom rising above 30. The Evensong is generally the best supported of all with numbers ranging between the upper 20s into the 40s on occasions. The mid-week Eucharist averages between six to ten, with the first Wednesday of the month being the Mothers’ Union corporate communion. Two lay people assist with the intercessions each month at Badsey. Family services have been experimented with in both parishes with varying degrees of success. Badsey can sustain such services on an occasional basis with the support of the Sunday School and youth organisations. For several years Wickhamford sustained a family service on a monthly basis quite successfully until the nucleus of children grew up and were confirmed after which, sadly, as has already been said, support declined to the point of extinction.
Whilst some new development in Wickhamford and Aldington has taken place (six new houses in Wickhamford at £250,000 each), Badsey continues to be a large developing village characteristic of many others throughout the county and indeed the country. It has four clearly identifiable types of resident: the market gardening community (for whom life is still difficult), long-term local residents with home stability and changing jobs, shorter-term residents in the lower middle-income bracket with a career stability but periodic changes of house, commuters, and a growing population of retired people. Very roughly, the first two groups make up a third of the population each, with the last two groups making up the last third, although the number of retired people is increasing rather than decreasing in proportion to the remained.
PDM, January 1994
As a postscript to the typed profile, Reverend Mitchell wrote the following in biro:
A third Local Authority housing in Badsey (approx)
Two Village Halls, one in Badsey, one in Wickhamford
Mothers & Toddlers group in Badsey
Playgroup (at school) in Badsey; nothing in Wickhamford
It is interesting to note what has changed in the past 30 years:
- Two of the three care homes (Seward House in Badsey and Woodlands in Wickhamford) have closed
- One of the three pubs (The Sandys Arms in Wickhamford) has closed
- One of the shops in Badsey has closed as has the Post Office in Wickhamford
- Many of the clubs no longer exist (but others have come into existence)
- After a hundred years of existence, the Mothers’ Union folded in January 2023
- The number of pupils at Badsey First School has greatly reduced in number (currently 154 on roll)
- The numbers of church-goers in both Badsey and Wickhamford has decreased
- The population of Badsey and Aldington has increased to 3412 (as at the 2021 census) of which nearly a third come into the 60+ age range
- The population of Wickhamford was 731 at the 2021 census which would seem to indicate a decline since the 1990s, but Reverend Mitchell may have been over-estimating the population
- Since the 1990s, several new housing estates have been built in Badsey, and also at Aldington off the Offenham Road
MS, July 2023