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Worcestershire, Warwickshire
St Bartholomew's Church - 2 - geograph.org.uk - 1353475.jpg
St Bartholomew's church
Grid reference: SP000690
Location: 52°19’19"N, 2°0’25"W
Population: 3,044
Post town: Bromsgrove
Postcode: B60
Dialling code: 01527
Local Government
Council: Bromsgrove

Tardebigge is a village and ancient parish partly in Worcestershire and partly in a detached part of Warwickshire. The village is most famous for the Tardebigge Locks, a flight of 36 canal locks that raise the Worcester and Birmingham Canal over 220 feet over the Lickey Ridge.

Name of the village

The origin of the name is uncertain. Several theories exist on the origins, but they remain largely disputed. One such theory[1] suggests that the name Tardebigge means ‘tower on the hill’.

The earliest surviving reference to the village is in the will of Wulfgeat of Donington, in which its name is recorded twice as æt Tærdebicgan. This name Tærdebicge has no obvious derivation from Old English nor any certain origin in the old British tongue. Bicge in Old English means "bitch" and bicgan "to buy", but these give little clue as to the rest. Some suggest that the name may perhaps be a stray survival from a lost language of these isles.


The ancient parish comprises the townships of Bentley Pauncefoot, Redditch and Webheath in Worcestershire, and Tutnall and Cobley in Warwickshire. The village itself lies in Tutnall and Cobley.

Records of the parish begin in the late 10th century. Tardebigge was bought by the Dean of Worcester for his Church from King Ethelred the Unready. In later ages there were battles fought between Ethelred's son Edmund Ironside and the Cnut the Dane.

In the 12th century, the parish was granted to Bordesley Abbey, a monastery. For three hundred years the area remained in the Church's possession. In 1538 the monastery was dissolved under Henry VIII and the land fell to the Crown. King Henry granted the lands to Andrew Lord Windsor, later Earl of Plymouth. The land was gradually sold off by the Earl. It was not until the mid 19th century that the parish of Tardebigge began to dissolve and the modern boundaries began to appear.

The area was well known for the manufacture of bricks during the 18th and 19th century. There is little industry in the village remaining, apart from minor canal narrow boat repairing works.

The farmlands of Tardebigge came predominately to be a fruit-growing area until the end of the 20th century, and the Tardebigge orchards famously supplied produce to the Birmingham conurbation. Most of these orchards were grubbed up in the 1970s and 1980s and the last orchard was removed in 2000, when cheaper imported fruit replaced the home grown produce. The only orchard planted recently is the small orchard of Tardebigge Cider.

Tardebigge Cider is a craft cider maker based in Tutnall, about a mile from the church. The cidermaker Steve Cooper planted a mixed orchard of traditional apple varieties of about 100 trees in 1995. The varieties are primarily Dabinett, Michelin, and Harry Masters Jersey with a few culinary varieties included along with some pears, Moorcroft and Worcester Black. The fruit from these trees and other Worcestershire fruit go to make about 1,000-1,500 gallons of high quality cider which is only sold locally.

The Tardebigge Locks

Some of the Tardebigge Locks

Tardebigge Locks or the Tardebigge Flight is the longest flight of locks in the United Kingdom, comprising 30 narrow locks on a two and a quarter mile stretch of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal at Tardebigge. It raises the waterway some 220 feet, and lies in between the Tardebigge tunnel (length 580 yards) to the North and the Stoke Prior flight of 6 narrow locks to the South. The Tardebigge Engine House is also on this stretch.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Tardebigge)
  • S 1534 Will of Wulfgeat of Donington, Anglo-Saxons.net