Upton Snodsbury is located on a ridge of high land between the Piddle Brook to the East and Bow Brook to the West. Both of these watercourses drain into the River Avon near Pershore.
For many centuries agriculture provided the main employment in the parish with livestock predominating, although grain and cider were also produced – much of the latter being exported to the Black Country. Over the past 60 years economics have dictated the reduction/demise of virtually all of these enterprises. The last vestiges of the many fruit orchards now provide the backbone of the Blossom Trail so popular in springtime Many of the fields are medieval ‘ridge and furrow’ and numerous footpaths Criss-cross the land. Several of the remaining six farms have now diversified with barns and outbuilding housing small businesses.
To the north of the parish lies Bow Wood, this is a remnant of the ancient Feckenham Forest and covers much of Castle Hill, (an Iron Age fort) and is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest ( SSSI).
It is thought that the ancient village of Snodesbyrie was founded by Saxons in the seventh century. They settled on land adjacent to Bow Brook in the vicinity of Court Farm. Nothing of this settlement remains with the exception of ‘hollow ways’ in the field opposite Bants pub and evidence of a ‘mill leet’ in the grounds of Court Farm. Snodsburie (sic) figures in Domesday when it was valued at £7.10.0 (£7.50) !!
In those days much of the surrounding land was owned by Westminster Abbey, having been gifted to it by various landowners. There is record of many legal disputes between Westminster and the Abbot of Pershore Abbey who also laid claim to land in the Parish.
The construction of St Kenelm’s church in the 13th Century saw it become the nucleus of the village of Upton, and in 1326 the two communities were formally united as Upton Snodsbury. Interestingly, the field on the corner of A422 and B4082 was for many centuries owned by the Church Commissioners and served as open land separating the two ancient settlements. This field is now designated as an ‘Open Space/Strategic Gap’ in the current Local Plan.
Very little happened in the centuries preceding the Civil War. The two sieges of Worcester in 1646 and 1651 however, saw the land surrounding the city ravaged by both Royalists and Parliamentarians. Indeed, no complete dwellings prior to the war exist in the village today, although some remnants have been incorporated into existing black and white houses, most of which were constructed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In 1707 a foul murder was committed in the village. A Mrs Palmer and her maid were murdered in a house known as Bull Cottage and the building set on fire. Subsequently, Mrs Palmer’s son, her brother and others were convicted of the crime. Legend has it that one of those executed was hung in a gibbet at the scene of his crime!
Upton Snodsbury continued its tranquil existence and in 1951 was described in Worcester Berrows Journal as ‘......the village in the orchards’. Long may this quiet corner of rural Worcestershire remain!