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Claines, Worcestershire

The village is still in a very rural situation, our ancestors reflected this as most were farm workers.

The Universal British Directory for 1791 gives the following description

“Claines, a village about two miles from Worcester, is a very large parish, and has several elegant well-built mansions....  Claines was only a chapelry to St. Helen’s, in Worcester: the church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist.”

Claines became a parish in its own right in 1218 with a Church there long before that date serving the manor of Northwich.

There is a description of the church in an article believed to have been written by the author of “The Rambler in Worcestershire” John Noakes in a magazine titled “The Mirror” dated Jan 10 1826. (The complete article above can be read on the Friends of Claines Church Web site. )

He vividly describes how the ordinary people sat on cramped benches in between two rows of box pews, or  “pushed up under the roof...in little galleries”. The box pews took up a huge area of floor space allowing the few monied owners to worship in splendid cushioned isolation  A clumsy attempt had been made to heat the Church with a “large stove placed in front of the communion rails” which hindered the approach to the altar. The writer observes “... it is tolerably clear that if the kingdom of heaven itself were to be purchased, the presence of the poor men would not be tolerated there.” he goes on to comment how although the priest declares all men to be equal in God’s sight the rich “must be considered Christian jewels to be kept in velvet - boxes lest they should catch the disease of lowliness by contact with the vulgar.” Noakes also tells of the curate’s need for a second “living” in order to pay his annual rent which was estimated at £70-8-0. One further extract worth highlighting is the way charities were being handled. It seems that donated money was not being used to help the poor at that time “I shall not fail to stop every poor person I may henceforth happen to meet in the street ... post them off immediately to the churchwardens ... to whom I wish much joy for their extra labours...”

He goes on to show how unfeeling charity could be. A Rev. T COOKE had left a legacy to provide gowns and coats for poor men and women to be marked C.T.M....”. He compares marking the clothing in this way with marking the clothes of criminals. He does however say the clothes were no longer marked in 1826.

Some charities are known to have continued with this unfeeling practice as late as the 1920s. This can be seen in  Daisy’s Boots.

The Church underwent a restoration which was completed in 1886. A family member worked on the Church restoration he was Francis COLLEY [5940]. A copy of a recommendation to him from the then vicar Alfred Porter can be read on the Friends of Claines Church site.

This photograph shows the old wattle and daub construction of the building.

All the photographs on this page were taken when we visited Claines on 21 October 1998 by Eric.McMullin.


The Mug House

An unique feature of the church is that it has only one of two public houses standing on consecrated ground. The Mug House, dating from the fifteenth century, was originally built as a brew house for the church. At that time water was of dubious quality and the brewing process was thought to kill the bacteria etc. so the church brewed small ale for its congregation. The puritans threatened to closed it in the seventeenth century because of the drunken and lewd behaviour of the congregation after services.

The Mug House has been refurbished many times over the years but much of its timber frame remains. A panel of the wattle and daub has been exposed (See below). Of course it has a legendary ghost which is reputed to open and closes doors and move the cellar tools around. An external wall was damaged during a  storm several years ago, revealing a hidden bishop's crosier now used annually by the Boy Bishop who is elected Dec 6 and serves until Dec 28th.

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