Described by the three times Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin as a “circle of beauty”, the view he had from his garden at Astley Hall still warrants that description today. After Baldwins death, a national appeal failed to raise sufficient money for a memorial. Sir Winston Churchill personally made up the shortfall and attended the dedication of the memorial, which stands on the Stourport to Worcester road (B4196), just below the hall.
At the heart of the Parish lies St. Peter's church, one of the finest Norman churches in the county, with rich Norman detail and carving, where a hymn writer of repute, Frances Ridley Havergal, is buried. Near the church, are the remains of a priory built in 1088. The priory was founded by Ralph de Todeni who was given the manor of Eastlie (Astley) for valour shown at the battle of Hastings. It was an alien Benedictine House, belonging to a parent monastery in Normandy. The Prior’s Well remains, but is very overgrown. To the East of the Priory, well-defined earthworks of a medieval village have been found.
Below the church and on Dick Brook is a 17th century timber-framed water mill, with a fine dam and an overshoot iron trough wheel working two pairs of stones. The wheel and much of the mechanisms are still intact. This mill is one of four in the Parish mentioned in the Domesday (Doomsday) Book of 1086 and is listed as Prior's Mill.
At Larford, the remains of an Iron Age site have been recorded, which possibly survived into the Roman Period.
The main road through Dunley was part of a turnpike road from North Wales to London and led down to the river crossing near the ancient hermitage known as Redstone Rock (long before there was a bridge over the River Severn at Stourport!). In these soft red sandstone cliffs on the banks of the Severn, there is a cave complex, which was probably a Stone Age settlement and was used as a hermitage from the 12th to the 16th centuries.
In the 1800s the caves acted as a home for “poor folk” with an alehouse, school, chapel, refectory and dormitories. The caves were still occupied in living memory!
In 1918 a monastery for the Society of St. Francis, was established in stables and courtyard of the manor house of Glasshampton. In 1810, the house itself was destroyed by fire on the day of a party to celebrate its rebuilding! Apart from the stables, a walled garden and the brick built icehouse (on the banks of Dick Brook) also survive.
If you have any locally related information that would be of interest then please email, telephone.
Copyright © Astley and Dunley Parish Council 2007