Moreton-in-Marsh High Street
Moreton-in-Marsh is a town in northeastern Gloucestershire. It is at the crossroads of the Fosse Way Roman road (now the A429) and the A44. The parish and environs are relatively flat and low-lying compared with the surrounding Cotswold Hills.
Lord of the Manor at Batsford, which includes Moreton, is currently Lord Dulverton. Until the Second World War, the Lord of the Manor implemented his right to collect a shilling a year for every shop window facing Moreton High Street.
The town's name is derived from Old English. It s found as Moreton in the Domesday Book, from the Old English mor tun, meaning "Farmstead on the Moor". "In Marsh" is a later addition from its position by marshland, though Mills suggests "in March" is henne mersh; "hen (or moorhen) marsh". An alternative suggestion is that 'Marsh' is a corruption of 'March' (Old English mearc for boundary, as it is by the county boundary.
The parish church is St David. It began as a chapel of ease for Blockley, where the parish church once was.
The early history of the church in Moreton is not clear. The church at Moreton came under the jurisdiction of the Batsford Estate, when that Estate was given to the Bishops of Worcester in the 12th century. Latterly, the church in Moreton was a chapel of ease for Batsford. The right of presentment to the parish of Batsford with Moreton alternates between the Bishop of Gloucester and the Lord of the Manor at Batsford, currently Lord Dulverton.
There is a tradition that the church was rebuilt and reconsecrated in the middle of the 16th century. The nave was enlarged in 1790, most of the church was rebuilt in 1858 and the tower was replaced in 1860. The chancel and south aisle were enlarged in 1892 and the east end of the south aisle has been used as a chapel since 1927.
A nonconformist congregation started meeting in Moreton in 1796, was constituted as a Congregational church in 1801 and had a chapel built in 1817. In 1860-61 the Congregationalists replaced the chapel with a new one on the same site in a mixed neo-Grecian and Romanesque style.
The Stratford and Moreton Tramway was built between 1821 and 1826, linking Moreton with the Stratford-on-Avon Canal at Stratford. It was horse-drawn until 1859, when the section between Moreton and Shipston-on-Stour was converted to a branch line railway operated with steam locomotives. The Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway, built between 1845 and 1851, passes through Moreton. The railway station was opened in 1853. The Great Western Railway (GWR) took over the OW&W Railway in 1862 and the Shipston branch in 1868. The GWR withdrew passenger trains from the branch in 1929 and British Railways withdrew freight traffic and closed it in 1960. The OW&W Railway is now part of the Cotswold line. The line between Oxford (Wolverton Junction) and Worcester (Norton Junction) was singled, except for the distance between Shipton-under-Wychwood to Moreton-in-Marsh, in the 1970s. The double track has been replaced, except between Evesham and Worcester (Norton Junction) in 2011, and freight services are planned to re-use this route.
The Redesdale Market Hall, after John Freeman-Mitford, 1st Earl of Redesdale, was designed by the architect Sir Ernest George and built in 1887.
In 1940 during the Second World War a large area of level land east of the town was developed as RAF Moreton-in-Marsh and used by Wellington bombers. The former airfield is now the Fire Service College where senior fire officers from brigades all over the United Kingdom undergo operational, management and leadership training. The same complex is also now the headquarters of the Institution of Fire Engineers, the professional body for fire fighters, officers and civilians with an interest in fire engineering.
Moreton-in-Marsh and Batsford War Memorial is in the High Street and commemorates the dead of the First and Second World Wars.
The last time Moreton was badly flooded was in 2007. The floods, which blocked the High Street, were fairly regular in the 1950s and 1960s, until works were carried out on the ditches around the Village. These works resolved most of the problems.
There was a Roman fort near Dorn (1 mile NW of Moreton) and the site of the annual Moreton and District Agricultural Show, held on the first Saturday in September, is actually on part of the site of the fort. The railway line to Worcester runs alongside the show ground, and at Dorn reaches the highest point between Oxford and Worcester. This is also the Thames/Severn watershed.
Moreton was once the headquarters of the railway spot-hire company Cotswold Rail.
Moreton has many buildings in characteristic Cotswold stone, numbers of antique shops and several hotels. A Caravan Club site is a short walk east on the Broadway road (A44), past the Wellington Aviation Museum, a museum of the history of the Vickers Wellington bomber. Other local attractions include Batsford Arboretum near Batsford village and the onion-domed Sezincote house and gardens.
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- Elrington, C.R. (Ed.) (1965). Victoria County History: A History of the County of Gloucester, Volume 6. pp. 24–250.
- Mills, A.D.; Room, A. (2003). A Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-852758-6.
- Verey, David (1970). The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 323–326. ISBN 0-14-071040-X.