Population: 1911, 345; 1921, 354; 1931, 448.
Barston lies in a bend of the river Blythe, which
surrounds it on all sides but the north, where the
boundary is formed by a small stream running eastwards into the Blythe. The southern extremity is a
tongue of land separating Knowle and Balsall. There
is no highroad passing through the parish, but a network of small roads meets where the village stands on a
slight hill at 380 ft. from which the ground slopes down
to 300 ft. at Barston Bridge, leading to Berkswell. The
scenery is beautiful, though there is no woodland. The
commons of the parish were inclosed in 1732. (fn. 1) There
were in 1624 two of these commons, Barston Parke
and Barston Marshe, and three common fields, in
which the lands of the manors of Barston and Balsall
were intermingled and only distinguishable by their
tenures. (fn. 2)
The Domesday Survey mentions a mill here worth
4s., and among the villeins of the Knights Templars
at Barston in 1185 (see below) were two millers. Two
watermills are mentioned in 1588 as attached to the
manor. (fn. 3) They may have been on the Blythe at
Bradnocks Marsh, where a mill is shown on the 6-inch
The little village lies along a main street running
east and west, north of the church, and contains about
ten small ancient buildings of timber-framing, with
tiled roofs. Unless otherwise stated they are of the 17th
The vicarage, west of the church, is the old Glebe
House and is built of mid-18th-century red brickwork.
A cottage on the south side, north-east of the church,
is half of early-17th-century square framing with
curved braces below the wall-plates and half of later
rectangular framing with straight braces. Another
farther east is rough-cast but shows some framing; and
a third opposite, with a thatched roof, is of square
framing and has a central chimney-stack.
Three interesting cottages west of the vicarage are of
rectangular plan. One is of square framing of the late
16th century and has curved braces under the side
wall-plates and the cambered tie-beams of the north
and south gables. The gable-heads project on shaped
brackets. A central chimney-stack has a square shaft.
Another is obviously much earlier and has similar but
larger curved braces. Half the lower story has early
wide flat ceiling-joists, the other has a chamfered beam.
The chimney-stack is on one side. The third is larger,
of three bays in length, and shows square framing
on the west side. It is now the War Memorial
The Bull's Head Inn opposite has a modernized
front block covered with rough-cast cement, but a wing
behind shows square framing. A central chimney-stack
to the front block has reduced fire-places, but above the
roof it is of four old square shafts.
Farther west at the corner of the road to Temple
Balsall is a building of three conjoined parallel gabled
wings, the middle of which has some old timber framing. A house opposite is of T-shaped plan: the north
part, the head of the T, is of timber-framing, and some
remains exist in the front part, which is mostly of brick.
Another house behind it, east of Oak Lane, with a central
chimney-stack, has square framing in its upper story.
About ¼ mile farther west, at the corner of a lane
running south, is a lodge that has been much restored
but has many early-17th-century timbers. The east and
west ends have projecting gable-heads with stopmoulded bressummers on shaped brackets. A central
chimney-stack is panelled.
About ¾ mile farther north-west are two small
cottages, east of the Malt Shovel Inn, showing some
old framing, and another west of it with a thatched
roof is of rectangular framing.
The hamlet of Eastcote, about a mile north-west of
the church, has several more important buildings.
Wharley Hall, at the crossing of the road from
Hampton to Knowle and the Solihull road, is a rectangular building dated 1669 with the initials T. W.
in a panel above the door-way. The walls are of red
brick, the longer east side towards the road being
divided into nine bays by square pilasters, and the north
and south ends into three bays. The lower windows
have moulded pediments of brick; the entrance in the
east side has a wooden architrave and bracketed flat
cornice. A central chimney-stack is panelled. There is
also a timber-framed barn.
Eastcote House, north-west of it, belonging to the
Fisher Charity Trust, also bears the date 1669 with the
initials CF and TF. The house is like Wharley Hall,
the south-east front being divided into seven bays and
the original end walls into three. It also has a front
porch with an arched entrance; this is modern but the
reset inscription in the pediment is original.
'Eastcote Manor', opposite the last, is a late-16th-century house of rectangular plan facing north-west
(called west in this description) with large later additions behind. The original part is of black and white
framing. The front is all of close-set studding and has
two large dormers (the southern modern) projecting
on shaped brackets and with gabled heads. These are
of square framing with half-round notches cut in the
posts and rails to form quatrefoils. The north and south
ends have herring-bone framing to the upper story;
the gable-heads, projecting on stop-moulded bressummers and shaped brackets, are of similar quatrefoiled
framing. The main windows are of oriel type on
shaped brackets, mostly much restored. Two chimneystacks have square shafts with V-shaped pilasters, probably rebuilt. The fire-places have been reduced or
altered and the interior generally completely renovated.
There are some ancient roof timbers. The north and
east sides of the modern additions are framed to match
the original elevations.
Eastcote Hall, ¼ mile farther west, is an early- to
mid-15th-century house that had a great hall, facing
north and south, between an east solar and west buttery
wing, making the plan H-shaped. The west wing was
lengthened to the south by another bay about the end
of the century, and in the 16th century the usual upper
floor and chimney-stacks were inserted. In the 18th or
19th century the north front of the hall block was
rebuilt and most of the lower story of the other parts
refaced or rebuilt with brickwork. The hall consists of a 15 ft. east bay, a 9 ft. middle bay, and
a 7 ft. screens passage. The main truss, between
the bays, has an 18 in. chamfered and cambered tiebeam with hollow-chamfered curved braces forming
an arch below it. The main post rises from the ground
on the south side but has been cut short on the north.
Above are plain posts below the collar beam &c. The
other truss, to the screens, is of spere type, formed by
outer and inner story-posts with framing between each
pair, and having a middle arch below a curved cambered tie-beam. The side-purlins have curved windbraces. For head-room to a doorway part of the main
tie-beam has been cut away. The middle truss of the
east wing has a cambered tie-beam supported by curved
braces of the same section as the main hall-truss: on it
rests a chamfered longitudinal beam of the 16th
century. The west wing has a curved cambered tiebeam carrying posts, and the purlins are wind-braced.
Both wings show some of the original wide flat ceilingjoists to the lower story.
The hall block is of brick on the north with two
(later) gabled semi-dormers. The entrance is in the
original screens position and has an old nail-studded
door. The south wall is of square framing. The two
wings project about 5 ft. in front: the lower stories are
of brick, but the upper stories have heavy vertical
timbers set rather wider apart than the usual closestudding. The gable-heads have posts and collarbeams similar to the trusses. Some square framing
remains in the west side of the west wing, but at the
south end of both sides of it the lower story has close-set
studding. The 16th-century chimney-stack inserted at
the east end of the hall has a wide fire-place; above it
are three diagonal shafts, rebuilt. Another chimneystack above the west wing has three similar old shafts.
The north-east ground-floor room and north-west
upper room are lined with early-17th-century panelling.
A square moat filled with water surrounds the house,
crossed by a modern bridge over the north side. In the
inner north-west angle is a brick pigeon house.
A blind road leads to Walsal End, ½ mile east of
Eastcote. Here are two 17th-century houses. One
facing south has square framing and projecting
gable-heads on curved brackets. The square central
chimney-stack is panelled. The other facing west,
now tenements, has been largely reconditioned. Both
have timber-framed barns.
Barston Park Farm, on the road to Temple Balsall,
is mostly rebuilt or refaced with 18th-century red
brick, but has two gable-heads of older framing on the
east front. A barn north of it also has some old framing.
BARSTON (Bertanestone) is entered in
the Domesday Survey under the lands of
Turchil of Warwick as assessed at 9 hides.
Before the Conquest Ailmar held it and by the king's
leave sold it to Alwin the sheriff, the father of Turchil.
From Turchil it was held in pledge by 'R. de Olgi'. (fn. 4)
This last name is probably a scribal error through confusion of two Roberts, for the entry is repeated under
the lands of Robert Dispenser, with identical details,
except that the hidage is given as 10 hides and there is
said to be land for 10 ploughs (instead of for 11
ploughs, of which 1 was on the demesne, as given in the
earlier entry). (fn. 5) At the end of the survey of Warwickshire is an entry—'Robert holds of the King ½ hide in
Bercestone, and there he has 1 plough and a mill worth
20d. It is worth 20s. Turchil held it freely.' (fn. 6) This has
been assumed to refer to Barston, (fn. 7) but the identification is very doubtful.
Robert Dispenser's lands here, as at Tamworth,
passed to the Marmions, one of whom apparently gave
a considerable estate to the Knights Templars. In
1185 they held land in Barston of the fee of Robert
Marmion; the details show about 25 virgates (i.e. 6¼
hides) held by villeins, among whom were two millers
and Ordric the potter (figulus). (fn. 8)
The Templars' estates were granted to the Knights
of St. John of Jerusalem about 1312, and thereby the
Hospitallers acquired the whole
of Barston; for Alan de Faleise,
who held 1 knight's fee (presumably here) of Robert Marmion in
1166, (fn. 9) gave them half of Barston
with park and wood before 1199, (fn. 10)
and in 1208–9 Henry de Barford
gave them 2½ hides in Barston,
in exchange for an annuity of 10
marks for his life. (fn. 11) This part of
Barston was granted in 1213 by
the prior to Richard Parker of
Ryton and Roger de Grendon,
during the life of Henry de Barford, to hold in
villeinage of the prior. (fn. 12) In a survey of the lands of
the Hospital made in 1338 Barston is returned under
the bailiwick (bajulia) of Grafton. There was then at
Barston a messuage, a carucate of land, and meadow,
worth 100s., rents of assize worth £10, and pasture for 200
cattle. (fn. 13) The bailiff there received a stipend of 13s. 4d.
Knights Hospitallers. Gules a cross argent.
Barston at the Dissolution was a member of Balsall. (fn. 14)
As a late possession of this Preceptory it was granted in
1562 to John Fisher (fn. 15) and Thomas Dabridgecourt. (fn. 16)
They sold it to Edward Aglion by, who was also farmer
of Balsall manor. (fn. 17) According to a deponent in a suit
of 1597 Barston was at that time part of Balsall manor;
there was no manor-house at Barston nor any demesne
land, and there was one constable and bailiff for the two
places. Aglionby separated it from Balsall and set up
courts at Barston, which the tenants were bound to
attend for fear of losing their holdings. (fn. 18)
Aglionby sold Barston manor in 1588 to Arthur
Atye and Richard Sutton, trustees of Robert, Earl of
Leicester. (fn. 19) The earl also held the manor of Balsall, and
the question arose as to whether Barston was really a
separate manor. After the death of the earl, Lettice,
Countess of Leicester, held Balsall as jointure, and in
1596 she and her husband Sir Christopher Blount
claimed a tenement and mill in Barston as part of
Balsall manor. A deponent on behalf of the tenant,
Henry Casmore, stated that Barston was a separate
manor, for which courts were held at the house of
Thomas Thomas alias Pole, reputed to be the manorhouse. (fn. 20) This was apparently the case, for Barston no
longer descended with Balsall. After some controversy
in the courts with Sir Robert Dudley, illegitimate son
of the late Earl of Leicester, claimant of all his estates,
the trustees Atye and Sutton conveyed the manor in
moieties, half to the Earl and Countess of Huntingdon,
and half to the Earl and Countess of Rutland, representing the heirs-at-law of the late Earl of Leicester,
Katherine, Countess of Huntingdon, being his sister,
and Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland, being daughter of
Sir Philip Sydney, son of Lady Mary Sydney, another
sister of the earl. (fn. 21) The Countess of Huntingdon sold
her moiety to Lord Sydney, of whom it was purchased
soon after by Henry Harris of Droitwich. (fn. 22) Sir Robert
Dudley made another unsuccessful attempt to obtain
possession of the manor in 1603. (fn. 23) Henry Harris sold
his share in 1611 to Sir Clement Fisher. (fn. 24) Evidently
Sir Clement wished to purchase the whole manor, for
in 1610 Thomas Screven wrote to the Earl of Rutland
that he had agreed on the earl's behalf for the sale of
Barston, as had he not accepted Sir Clement's offer at
once it would have been withdrawn. (fn. 25) The sale of this
half did not eventually take place, for on his death in
1619 Sir Clement held only half the manor, which then
passed to his son Robert. (fn. 26) He was created a baronet in
1622, and sold this part of Barston to John Eyre in
1638, (fn. 27) who may have been acting for the Earl of
Rutland, as in 1654 John, Earl of Rutland, sold the
whole manor of Barston, otherwise Barston Escott, to
William Willoughby. (fn. 28) Willoughby sold it in 1657 to
William Strode. (fn. 29)
William Strode of Coventry left as one of his coheiresses Elizabeth wife of Philip Bedingfield of Ditchingham and she and Anne wife of Nicholas Reynardson,
probably her sister, conveyed the
manor in 1680 and 1681 to
Henry and Robert Bedingfield. (fn. 30)
Soon after this the manor passed
to Richard Hopkins, who held it
in 1694. (fn. 31) Richard was M.P.
for Coventry at various times
between 1660 and 1698 and was
an active promoter of the Revolution. He died in 1707 and the
manor passed to his son Edward,
M.P. for Coventry and Secretary
of State for Ireland. He died in
1736, and the courts that year
were held in the name of his
widow Anna Maria, guardian of their son Richard.
Richard, who was also M.P. for Coventry, held courts
in 1771 and 1788 and died without issue in 1799. His
nephew General Richard Northey, third son of his
sister Anne, succeeded him and took the name Hopkins
in May 1799. (fn. 32) General Richard Northey-Hopkins
died in 1845 and his son William Richard NortheyHopkins of Oving House, was owner of Barston in
1858. (fn. 33) His only son died on service in the Army, and
it would appear that on the division of his property
between his five daughters the manorial rights were
allowed to lapse.
Hopkins. Sable a cheveron argent between three pistols or with three roses gules on the cheveron.
The court of the manor of Barston had testamentary
jurisdiction; the wills proved there, of which the
earliest surviving is of 1671, are preserved at Birmingham. (fn. 34)
The church of ST. SWITHIN was rebuilt in 1721 and consists of a chancel,
nave, and west tower. The upper half of
the tower is of later 18th-century date than the rest.
There are also a modern north porch and vestry. The
walls are of red brick with rusticated angle dressings
and plinths of red sandstone. The roofs are tiled.
The chancel, 25½ ft. by 16 ft., has the original
round-headed east window and a blank bull's eye
window above it in the low-pitched gable-head, but
the original side windows are walled up and replaced
by pairs of modern lancet windows. The chancel arch
and the roof are modern.
The nave, 45 ft. by 20 ft., has also had its original
windows replaced by modern windows, two in each
wall; the 18th-century north doorway has stone pilastered jambs, square imposts, and a round head with a
key-block. The south doorway is blocked. The roof is
probably original. It is of five bays divided by trusses
with diagonal framing above the tie-beams.
The west tower, 12 ft. square, has similar but
narrower east and west doorways, and side windows to
the lower story with moulded architraves, plain imposts,
and round heads. The upper half of the tower is of
darker red brick than that of the lower. The bellchamber windows have plain stone-work, but the imposts do not project. The parapet is plain above a
moulded string-course and has pilasters, wide at the
angles and narrow in the middle. The four lowest
courses of the tower walls inside are of re-used red
sandstone: one has a medieval scratched sun-dial. A
stair-vice projects in the north-east angle. Above the
west doorway outside is a stone panel with a defaced
inscription in Roman lettering. It is said to have read:
'Ecclesia haec propemodum diruta reaedificata fuit
auxilio generoso hujus comitatus AC 1721.' (fn. 35)
The communion rails have twisted balusters. Other
fittings are modern.
One mural monument is to John Gough Fisher, son
of Thomas Fisher of Springfield 1754. There are five
bells: the first by William Bagley 1691, the second
1689 and the fifth 1683 both by Matthew Bagley. The
third, uninscribed, may be of the 14th century, and the
fourth, dated 1728, is by Joseph Smith. (fn. 36)
The registers date from 1598.
In the churchyard is a medieval cross retaining part
of the shaft, a square base, and two octagonal steps.
Barston was a chapelry of Berkswell (fn. 37) until 1894, when it was constituted a vicarage, the presentation to
which was assigned to J. C. Gilbert. The patronage is
now in the hands of trustees. Barston was apparently
separated from Berkswell for a short time in 1662,
when the patron and rector of Berkswell resigned all
rights in the tithes of Barston in favour of Samuel Hunt
then curate of Barston, who apparently became vicar
of Barston. (fn. 38)
Dole Charities. Thomas Fisher in
1651 gave 10s. per annum, out of
two closes, called Ebridges, to the
poor of Barston.
Henry Marsh in 1617 similarly gave 10s. per annum,
out of his estate at Pearsall End. In 1915 the charge
was redeemed for £20 Consols producing 10s. in
Margaret Allibone in 1719 gave 20s. yearly, out of
her copyhold estate at Eastcote. This charge was redeemed in 1925, £40 Consols producing £1 yearly.
Catherine Astley gave 10s. per annum out of her
copyhold land in the manor of Balsall.
Martin Astley gave 10s. per annum to be paid out
of his estate.
William Penn in 1624 gave 10s. per annum out of a
close called Long Rangsley.
The total income of the Dole Charities, amounting
to £3 10s., is distributed by the vicar of Barston and
one other trustee among the poor of the parish.
Lucy Bressie in 1647 surrendered to trustees 'the
Town Close', to employ 2s. of the rents thereof towards
the repair of the church and, after payment of chief
rent and other taxes, to distribute the residue among
the poor of Barston. Part of the land was sold in 1926
and the proceeds invested, producing £4 2s. 2d.
annually. The remaining land, consisting of four
gardens, is let at 10s. a year.