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The Mayall Family

After the Lechmeres and the Hornyolds, the family that has lived longest in the parish of Hanley Castle appears to be the Mayalls of Yew Tree Cottage, Hanley Swan. A Robert Mayall is recorded as paying a hearth tax in 1660 on a dwelling, later named Hundis and then Yew Tree Cottage, which was built following the deforestation of Malvern Chase. The cottage was originally part of a 21-acre smallholding and appears to include the site of a medieval potter’s kiln, the outline of which can still be seen in certain weather conditions in the grass at the front of the house. Pottery shards dating back to the 12th century have been found in the garden.

In his will dated 23 August 1690, Robert left his property to his son, Robert II, who married Esther Kings of Castlemorton in 1708. Their son, Robert III, married a local Hanley Castle girl, Mary Knight, in 1731 and had nine children, the eldest of whom was John. He married Martha Lee of Little Malvern in 1764, but appears to have worked outside the parish, because their son, John II, was not baptised in Hanley Castle.

When the Enclosure Act was passed in 1797, John II sold most of his land to Thomas Hornyold for £50 (£4000 today), retaining Yew Tree Cottage and 1 acre of orchard. John’s son Richard, who inherited the reduced property, is listed as a farm labourer in the 1851 and 1861 censuses, but as a freeholder in 1871. When he died in 1872, the property passed to his son, John III, a carpenter, who later added an extension for his sister Jane. But he left the cottage to his son Walter, who moved away from the parish. In due course it was inherited by his two children and, in 1946, they sold it for £525 (£15,000 today) to a Guarlford farmer Sydney Wilson, whose father, the Birmingham industrialist John Wilson, had bought several properties in Hanley Swan between the wars, including Yew Tree House, Cygnet Lodge and Blackmore End Farm. Sydney Wilson sold off the acre of land, on which today the three Catterall cottages now stand.

At this point the Mayalls would have lost their connection with Yew Tree Cottage had it not been for John III’s sister Jane, who had married a Birmingham policeman, James Mann. When he died in 1878, she brought their son George back to Hanley Swan to live in the extension to the cottage. George grew up in the village, taking various jobs, one of which was chauffeur to the Maylor family at The Grange.

Not far away at Catterall (now Brummell Court) old Mrs Hunter was looked after by a nurse, Clara Boraston from Rock, near Bewdley, whose family can be traced back to 1547. George and Clara married in 1897 and brought up their children Jim and Norah in the village. Jim Mann became a skilled cabinetmaker and Norah married Horace Rawlings, a thatcher. She moved away, but after her husband died she returned to Hanley Swan with her daughter Margaret and rented Yew Tree Cottage from Sydney Wilson. When Margaret Rawlings married David Read in 1965, they bought back the cottage that had been in her family for all but 20 of the past 350 years.

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