Abberley is a parish in rural West Worcestershire situated within the Malvern Hills District Council boundaries. It is an approximate rectangle, 6 miles long and up to a mile wide. The ridge of Abberley Hill forms the long eastern boundary.
Abberley Hill is formed of an overturned thrust fold of Silurian rocks capped with a breccia of Permian age. On the west side of the hill, the sandstones, clays and coal seams of The Wyre Forest coalfield provided employment in extraction of coal from the Middle Ages until the late 1920s and clay for making bricks and tiles from at least the late fifteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century. At the east end of the parish, the underlying clays and sandstones are of Devonian age.
The settlement pattern of Abberley like many parishes in Worcester dates from at least Saxon times and is and remains a dispersed one with houses grouped around farmsteads or greens, Town Farm and Elms Green attest to this style of settlement. Recent local history projects have identified evidence of both pre-historic people and Romans living in the area as well as continuous occupation from the Medieval period to the present day. Farming remains the dominant land use, orchards are far less plentiful than they had been but hops are now being grown again.
Within the parish, a hunting lodge and its associated deer park were given to a favourite of the William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings but at times reverted to the Crown, the last hereditary owners, the Bromley’s, sold the estate in 1836. Abberley Lodge was demolished and a new house named Abberley Hall was built by the Moilliet’s, a Birmingham banking family, the estate was later owned by John Joseph Jones, an Oldham industrialist and banker. After 1910, the Jones heirs chose not to live in Abberley and from 1912, the building has housed Abberley Hall preparatory school. Former pupils include a number of MPs including Geoffrey Howe, later Lord Abaravon and Philip Dunne the sitting MP for South Shropshire. Abberley’s other grand house, The Elms was owned by the Sir Richard and Lady Brooke from 1926 until 1946. Sir Richard established a successful racing stables; King Salmon, his most famous horse won the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown in 1934 and twice came second in the Derby. Training race horses continues elsewhere in the parish to this day. The Elms later became one of the first English country house hotels and is still operates as a hotel and spa today.
Abberley has had a village school since 1717, the school has occupied its current building since 1859. Abberley Post Office was run from rooms in private houses until moving into the Village Stores, Abberley’s remaining village shop, in the twenty first century. The Manor Arms, the remaining pub, was originally called the Bromley Arms. Abberley retains two Church of England churches, but did also have a Methodist Chapel. Owen’s Garage continues to provide a car repair business, but no longer sells fuel or operates the local bus service as it did in the twentieth century.