Welcome to the website of the Hanleys
Situated in the parish of Hanley Castle, the Hanleys is a community of approximately 1500 people spread across two villages stretching from the River Severn to within 2 miles of the Malvern hills. Hanley Castle, named after a 13th century castle long since demolished, is centred around a church of Norman origin and a 17th century pub. Hanley Swan, which developed along the main route through the parish, is centred around a traditional village green with duck pond, pub and village stores.
A settlement known as han leah, meaning a high clearing in old English, existed in Saxon times and originated as a clearing in the great forest that swept down from the hills to the river. When King John built a hunting lodge here in the 13th century and Edward II extended the castle 100 years later, the village became increasingly known as Hanley Castle. In medieval times the area developed a flourishing pottery industry because of the availability of good clay, a plentiful supply of trees for charcoal and the river for transport; consequently, it was sometimes known as Potters Hanley. But by the 17th century the potters had left and the decision by Charles I to sell off one third of Malvern chase, as the forest had become, led to the gradual enclosure of smallholdings and the planting of fruit orchards. The Enclosure Act of 1795 consolidated the estates of the two largest landowners – the Lechmere and Hornyold families.
The old village grew around St Mary’s church and along Quay Lane leading down to the river, where for hundreds of years goods were loaded and unloaded at the busy quayside. Originally, the road from Upton to Worcester led past the church and its market place and on to the junction with Roberts End at Cross Hands. But in 1752 a turnpike road was built, bypassing the village and Hanley Castle became a cul-de-sac disturbed only by the activities of one of the oldest grammar schools in the country, now Hanley Castle High School.
Another consequence of the Enclosure Act was a change in the road pattern in the parish, leading to the formation of a junction where the roads from Hanley Castle to the hills and from Welland to the Rhydd met in an area already known, perhaps because of its large pond, as Hanley Swan. By the mid-19th century, this had become the most populated part of the parish and when a post office was opened in the 1890s it was officially recognised as a separate village.
Click for a map showing the locations of Hanley Swan and Hanley Castle:
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