The parish of Hartlebury, Worcestershire, which has approximately 2,500 inhabitants, is formed from a collection of scattered hamlets with an historic village centre, bordered on the west by the River Severn and Hartlebury Common, an area of heathland which is a SSSI and an important nature reserve. The surrounding area is comprised mainly of fertile arable farmland.
The hamlets include Charlton, Chadwick, Whitlenge, Torton, Norchard, Crossway Green and Lincomb.
The spelling of the name Hartlebury’, Heortlabyrig in 817AD, has changed over time,
but it stems from ’heortla’ meaning hart, as in deer, and ’byrig’ meaning an enclosed
or fortified place, in effect ’The Hill of the Deer’. The land was granted by Burghred,
King of Mercia, to the Bishops of Worcester in 850AD. There was an extensive deer
park at Hartlebury Castle, which for centuries was the home of the Bishops of Worcester.
The house, at first a simple structure which was first mentioned in 1237, changed
over the years as it became fortified and crenulated and acquired a moat. The medieval
part of the castle, which is seen today dates from 1375 -
Through the troubled times of Welsh, Danish and Saxon incursions, Hartlebury sheltered some remarkable history makers amongst it’s lords. Before there was a King of England, there was a Bishop of Worcester; before there was a castle at Windsor, there was one at Hartlebury. In those times, the bishop was a temporal as well as a spiritual lord. Some of the bishops were very important in the land, among them Dunstan who made himself the virtual ruler under weak and irresolute kings, and Wulstan, whose army repressed the rebellion of Roger, the Norman Earl of Hereford, against William the Conqueror. In the eighteenth century, we see Bishop Hurd establishing a very important Library which is still valued by academics today.
Hartlebury has grown considerably and is now very much a dormitory village for surrounding industrial areas and modern houses have been built in and around the old village centre.
There is now only one of the historic inns left in the village, The White Hart opposite the church, but sadly the Talbot Inn is to be converted to housing, this is opposite the Post Office, which itself is a very important part of village life in Hartlebury.
There are also several thriving Farm Shops, selling local produce, in the village.