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The Parish of Hopton Wafers: St Michael and All Angels

The name 'Hopton' dates back to earliest times. 'Hope' was a Celtic word meaning a place between hills, and the 'tun' was a Saxon word for a settlement. The 'Wafers' was added later.

In Edward the Confessor's time Hopton had belonged to Worcester Priory, but Sweyn, the eldest son of Earl Godwin managed to take this and other manors from the Priory. At the time ofthe Norman Conquest it was held by Siward.

King William gave Hopton and other manors to Roger de Lacy, who was one of the great Marcher barons, and Widard held it from him. We know nothing else about him except that he appears in the Bayeux Tapestry, with the words, 'Hic est Wadard'.

The word 'waffre' is an old French word for a honeycomb, and it was also the name of a French village in Normandy. The Le Waffre family fought with De Newmarch, the Norman conqueror of mid-Wales. Robert Le Waffre was Lord of Hopton in 1243. He probably built the first church, which was an oblong building, with low tower and a South porch. It had a barn-like roof with 3 dormer windows.

Robert's daughter, Lucy, married Roger Mortimer who died in the Tower of London in1326. He was the uncle of the notorious Roger who became the first Earl of March, hanged at Tyburrn in 1330. John, the son of the first mentioned Roger sold his right to the lordship of Hopton to the Earl of Arundel. Following the Arundels, the Talbots of Shrewsbury inherited in the 15th century.

The Waffre family still had an interest in Hopton for Lucy's brother had a daughter who married William Careswell, the Lord of Coreley. Their heirs inherited land in Hopton and afterwards came the Pleyleys and the Hydes.

Richard Hyde, who died on 6th August 1500, is named as Lord of Hopton, and the manor continued in the ownership of the Hydes until the last of the male line, another Richard, died in 1719 His wife, Sarah, was later accidentally killed in one of the paper mills.

She had sold Hopton Court in 1756 to Joseph Oldham, who with his brother-in-law, Thomas Compson, worked the paper mills here and in Cleobury.

Mr Oldham pulled down the old house of the Hydes and built a new house on a new site in 1779. He then sold Hopton Court to John Hale of Bewdley, who died in the same year His son, Curteis, sold it to Thomas Botfield in 1798.

When Mrs Hyde sold the Court she retained the Lordship & the right of presentation to the Church of St. Michael. The manor and advowson she left in her will to William Bedford and James Stanton (her niece, Anne's husband).

James Stanton appears to have bought out the other heir, as a brass plate in Church describes him as Lord of the Manor. James and Anne's daughter, Polly (Mary), married William Henry Betty. Their son William Henry West Betty became the famous Il-year-old child actor.

Stanton's widow sold the Manor and advowson to John Cotton of Leyton, Essex. He presented his nephew, Nathaniel, to the living. He was followed by Joseph Cotton's son-in-law, Thomas Bowdler.

In 1812 Thomas Botfield purchased the Manor and advowson, thus re-uniting the old Waffre manor and the Court. In 1825 he demolished the old dilapidated Norman church and rebuilt the present church on the same site.

Beriah Botfield, nephew of Thomas succeeded to the property of his uncles Thomas and William, and his father, Beriah. On his death, under Thomas's will, the Hopton estate passed to Thomas Woodward, who was the son of Thomas Woodward, Rector of Hopton and Mrs Thomas Botfield's nephew. The Woodwards still retain the patronage of the living.

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