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Astwood Court at
Feckenham, Worcester

Astwood Court

Astwood Court is the last seat of the Culpepers in England prior to the emigration of certain family members to America in the 1600's. Virtually all American Culpeppers can trace their ancestry back to John Culpeper of Astwood in Feckenham (1565-1635).

Astwood Court Gate, March 2000
Without the owner's permission to enter, this attractive gate is about all that can be seen of Astwood Court from the road.
Astowod Court Moat, March 2000
The old moats around historic British houses are protected by law, and Astwood Court's has been well preserved.

Astwood Court, Front View, March 2000
Astwood Court front view,
taken from across the moat.

Astwood Court, Side View, March 2000
Astwood Court, side view.

The photographs above were all taken by Warren Culpepper in March 2000, with the permission of the current owner who kindly permitted a tour throughout the grounds and home.

In The Proprietors of the Northern Neck, Fairfax Harrison says:

John (Culpeper of Astwood at Feckenham), who early in his adult life lived at Greenway Court, had a profitable law practice and subscribed to the Virginia Company under the charter of 1609; and a year later, under the third charter, to make one of the largest individual subscriptions (37, 10s. 6d.) to the 'supply' which saved the colony at Jamestown from death by inanition (Brown, Genesis, 218, 407, 546).

Having been designated, by the will of his uncle Martin, the contingent remainderman of Astwood in Feckenham, he removed his family to Astwood after the inheritance had become certain by the death without issue of his cousin Sir Stephen12; and there buried his first wife in June, 1612. This occupancy was by arrangement with Dr. Martin Culpeper's widow, who had a life estate but had meanwhile re-married and removed her residence elsewhere. In 1616 he bought out that aunt's interest, and then gave over his law practice to become a country gentleman. Being now 'of Feckenham,' he became a diligent presiding magistrate at quarter sessions; being included, a generation ahead of Sir Roger de Coverley, of the quorum in the Worcestershire commission from 1618-1628; again, like Sir Roger, in 1624 he served the office of Sheriff of that county 'with music before me, a feather in my hat and my horse well bitted' (Bund, Cal. Quarter Sessions Papers, Worcestershire, 1591-1643, 1900; Sheriff Lists in Fuller's Worthies).

But when he was nearly seventy years of age, for what reason does not appear, he sold Astwood to one Thomas Rich, and returned to Greenway Court to die. There, on December 14, 1635, he made his will and on December 18th following, as the parish register testifies, 'Mr. John Culpeper, Armiger,' was buried in the chancel of Hollingbourne church.

Thomas Culpeper of the Middle Temple and John Culpeper the Merchant  were sons of John of Astwood and they would have lived at Astwood Court as children. Thomas and John later became the owners of a ship called the "Thomas and John" which made many voyages from England to the American colonies. While not proven, John the Merchant is believed by Culpepper Connections to be the father of Henry Culpeper of Lower Norfolk and the progenitor of most American Culpeppers.

Location: On Astwood Lane, 1 mile NE of Feckenham and 1 mile W of Astwood Bank (which is on the A-441). 
National Grid Coordinates
: SP 031 623

Feckenham, Hereford and Worcester

Topographical Dictionary of England
Feckenham, a parish in the upper division of the hundred of Halfshire, county of Worcester, 7 miles (E. by S.) from Droitwich, containing 2383 inhabitants... The church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist... This place gave name to an adjoining forest, and has long been noted for the manufacture of needles and fish hooks... John de Feckenham, an eminent Roman Catholic divine, and the last abbot of Westminster, was born here; he held disputations with Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, but performed kind offices for many others of the persecuted protestants in the reign of Mary.

Location: On the B-4090, 100 miles NW of London and 15 miles S of Birmingham
National Grid Coordinates: SP 009 614

St. John the Baptist Church, Feckenham

Parts of Feckenham church date back to the middle 1200's. It has one monument of significance to Culpeppers.

On the north wall, between the two Norman windows, and under a larger monument, is a plain black inscription panel commemorating Sir Martin Culpeper. He was the son and heir of Martin Culpeper of Astwood Court and died in 1604, aged 25. It was from the elder Martin that Astwood Court passed to John Culpeper, the direct ancestor of the American Culpeppers.

The inscription comes from a large tomb with effigies of a knight in armor and a lady; this tomb was swept away when the chancel was rebuilt in 1853 and the effigies are said to be buried beneath the floor:

Sir Martin Culpeper Monumental InscriptionOnder tis tombe lyeth the bodye of Sr Martyn Culpeper of Deane in the County of Oxenf. Knight. Sone and heire of Martyn Culpeper of Astwood Esquire and of Lettice the daughter of Humfrey Clarke of Westhawke by Ashford in the County of Kent Esquire. Hee married Joyce the eldest daughter of Sr Edward Aston of Ticshal in the County of Staff. Knight and of Anne the onlie daughter of Sr Tho. Lucy of Charlecott in the County of Warr. Knight. Hee had issue one sone and three daughters and left this life, the 2 day of June 1604 in the 25 yeares of his age.

The Ladye Joyce Culpeper, in memoire of his vertues and in perpertual testimonie on her love, erected this monument.

Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015


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