Population: 1911, 510; 1921, 443; 1931, 485.
The parish is bounded on the north, west, and south
by small streams, and the land, which is mostly open,
rises from about 320 ft. in the north to 400 ft. at the
church and then more steeply to over 650 ft. in the
south-west corner of the parish on Gredenton Hill,
where there are remains of earthworks. (fn. 1) Near its
eastern edge the parish is crossed by the joint tracks of
the L.M.S. and G.W. Railways, which have adjacent
stations on the road from the village to Wormleighton,
north of which the tracks diverge. The Oxford and
Birmingham Canal runs beside the joint tracks, turning
eastwards out of the parish just before the stations are
reached. Immediately east of the church, and 100 ft.
above it, a windmill occupies what was no doubt the
site of the windmill mentioned in 1655 (fn. 2) as attached to
The village is a rambling one with roads curving
round several loops, and lies chiefly west and north-west
of the church. It contains a fair number of stone-built
houses with thatched roofs of the local type but mostly
without any individual distinctive features.
Compton Farm, one of the larger buildings, about
300 yards north-west of the church and facing east,
dates probably from the early 17th century. The twostoried front of squared masonry of two periods, marked
by a straight joint, has mullioned windows with labels
and a tiled roof. On the front is a tablet: 'This house
was re-edified and built at the charge of Thomas Blicke
and Elizabeth his wife', probably followed by a date
now concealed by verdure. The house has a wide fireplace with a chamfered bressummer and chamfered ceiling beams. A barn at the back has also an inscribed tablet:
'e.b. In the year of our Lord God: John Basse 1667.'
Another house about 100 yards farther south on the
same side of the road is dated 1593 and has similar
windows, but in its south-east gable towards the road is
a blocked pointed window of the 14th century, probably
reset from elsewhere. A wide fire-place has an oak
bressummer and the staircase has 17th-century turned
balusters. A third house nearly opposite has similar
mullioned windows and is thatched. A fourth, south
of these, on the north side of the curved road past
the church, is practically all modern but retains a small
blocked window with 15th-century moulded jambs.
A cottage farther east opposite the way to the church
has a late-17th-century moulded doorway and next to
it a curious half-round coved recess with a stone bench.
A house at the north end of the village on the west
side of the road out to Wormleighton also has mullioned
windows in the gabled end.
The pre-Conquest vill of 'Contone'
appears to have been a 10-hide unit; in
1086 the Count of Meulan held 4 hides
and 3 virgates, and Turchil had 5 hides and 1 virgate
in two separate estates. The count's estate was held of
him by Gilbert; in the time of the Confessor Aluric had
held it. (fn. 3) The overlordship of this part descended with
the Honor of Leicester, (fn. 4) and so came into the Duchy
of Lancaster, (fn. 5) being last mentioned in 1361, when a
knight's fee here was assigned to Maud, daughter and
coheir of Henry, Duke of Lancaster. (fn. 6) A mesne lordship
was held by Ralph le Boteler in the reign of Henry I, (fn. 7)
and by his descendants the Botelers of Oversley until
at least 1361. (fn. 8)
Ralph le Boteler apparently enfeoffed one Bigot in
this manor, whose son Gilbert (fn. 9) 'Picot' is mentioned in
1174, when the sheriff answered for £6 from his land
in Compton. (fn. 10) This Gilbert, or more probably another
of the same name, died in or before 1221, when his
widow Cecily sued (his son) Richard Bigot for ⅓
knight's fee in Compton in dower. Richard granted
her 20s. of rent, of which 3s. was payable by Ralph
Bigot, 12d. by John Bigot, and 4s. by Maud widow of
Robert son of Gilbert. (fn. 11) Richard's elder son dying
without issue the manor of FENNY COMPTON
passed to his younger son Nicholas and from him to
three successive Roberts, (fn. 12) of whom the first was
probably the Robert Bigot who held the ½ fee of Ralph
le Boteler in 1279. (fn. 13) The third Robert, who claimed
the right of presentation to the church in 1337, (fn. 14) is
the last of the family known to have been associated
with the manor.
William Compton of Hawton (Notts.) is said to have
held the manor of Fenny Compton in 1427–8, and his
son (or grandson ?) John apparently sold it in 1444–5
to Hugh and John Pakenham. (fn. 15)
It was presumably this manor of Fenny Compton
which, with Ladbrooke, was conveyed by John son and heir of
Ralph Aylesbury in 1523 to Alan
Percy, clerk, and others, (fn. 16) probably in trust for a settlement.
By 1530 both manors seem to
have passed to Margery widow
of Sir Robert Bellingham and
daughter and heir of John Beaufitz
of Balsall; (fn. 17) she gave Ladbrooke
to the Abbey of Combe (fn. 18) and
sold Fenny Compton to Richard
Wyllys. (fn. 19) Richard died in 1532; (fn. 20)
and his son William died in 1578, seised of the manor and
leaving a son Ambrose. (fn. 21) He died in 1590, having
settled the manor on his wife Amy. (fn. 22) His son Richard
came of age in 1593 (fn. 23) and died in 1597, leaving a son
George, then aged 6; (fn. 24) the manor was then said to be
held of the Crown in free socage. (fn. 25) George Wyllys
settled in Hertford, Connecticut, where he became
Governor in 1642 and died in 1645, leaving his Fenny
Compton estate to his son George, (fn. 26) who in 1655 conveyed 'the manor' to Ambrose Holbech and Nathaniel
Ekins. (fn. 27) A moiety of the manor, however, was in the
possession of Bridget Wyllys in 1674 (fn. 28) and was conveyed in 1769 by George and Samuel Wyllys to
William Holbech. (fn. 29) The manor then descended with
that of Farnborough (q.v.).
Wyllys. Argent a cheveron sable between three molets gules.
In 1086 Turchil's estates in Compton, which had
been held under the Confessor by Ordric, Alwin, and
Ulsi, were held of him by Almar (2 hides) and Roger
(3 hides 1 virgate). (fn. 30) The overlordship passed to the
Earl of Warwick, of whom it was held as half a knight's
fee in 1235 (fn. 31) and as late as 1400. (fn. 32) A mesne lordship
was held by Thomas de Arderne in 1242 (fn. 33) and 1279, (fn. 34)
and, theoretically, by his heir in 1400. (fn. 35) In 1196 the
½ fee was in dispute between Adam de Stocton and
Maud his wife and Richard Peche; (fn. 36) and by a charter
of about the same date (between 1194 and 1197) Adam
and Maud gave 200 acres and
13 (or 3 ?) virgates of land in
'Fennicumbria' (fn. 37) to the canons
of Trentham Priory (Staffs.). (fn. 38)
Richard Peche held the ½ fee of
the Earl of Warwick in 1235, (fn. 39)
and his heir (his son John, a
minor) held it of Thomas
de Arderne in 1242. (fn. 40) John
Peche was lord of FENNY
COMPTON in 1279, when he
was said to hold it as ½ fee of the Prior of Trentham, who held of Thomas de Arderne, and he of
the Earl; (fn. 41) he had view of frankpledge and the assize
of bread and ale there. (fn. 42) His great-grandson Sir John
Peche leased the manor-house and demesnes to John
Knybbe in 1370 (fn. 43) and died in 1386. (fn. 44) The manor
then passed with Wormleighton (q.v.) to the family of
Mountfort and on the attainder of Sir Simon Mountfort in 1496 escheated to the Crown. Both manors
were granted in 1498 to William Coope, (fn. 45) and from
him passed to the family of Spencer. (fn. 46) By the end of
the 17th century this manor of Fenny Compton seems
to have been absorbed into Wormleighton.
Peche. Gules a fesse between six crosslets argent.
In 1369 Sir John Peche was paying 20s. rent to the
Prior of Trentham for lands in Fenny Compton, (fn. 47) and
in 1547 John Spencer held these lands, paying 40s.
rent. (fn. 48)
In 1235, besides the ½ fee of Richard Peche, the Earl
of Warwick had in the same vill ½ fee 'of Henry'. (fn. 49)
This may be the carucate held as ¼ fee of Thomas de
Arderne by the Priory of Clattercote (Oxon.) in 1279. (fn. 50)
The priory at this time also held 2 carucates (rated as
1 virgate) of the fee of John Peche. (fn. 51) At the Dissolution this, with other possessions of the priory, was given
to Sir William Petre in 1538 as the manor of Fenny
Compton; (fn. 52) the grant was renewed to him as late as
July 1546, (fn. 53) but in December of that year the manor,
'late of Clattercote Priory and of Sir William Petre',
was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church,
Oxford. (fn. 54)
The Priory of St. Sepulchre, Warwick, at the Dissolution was receiving 20s. rent from a mill in Fenny
Compton. (fn. 55)
The parish church of ST. PETER
AND ST. CLARE consists of a chancel,
nave, north and south aisles, north porch,
and west tower with a spire.
The earliest features in the building are the chancel
arch and part of the north arcade, dating from c.
1320–30; the chancel was rebuilt then and a north aisle
added to an earlier nave. The aisle seems to have been
rebuilt and the arcade remodelled quite late in the 14th
century, when also the west tower and spire and the
north porch were added. The nave-clearstory was
raised early in the 16th century but there is insufficient
evidence that the flat roof of that period still survives.
The roof was restored or reconstructed in 1879, when
much other restoration to the masonry and the south
aisle was added. All the windows are of modern stonework externally; the south wall of the chancel appears
to have been entirely rebuilt, but its north wall may
have been rebuilt in the 18th century. A date 1675 on
the north porch is probably to do with a remodelling
of its upper part and roof.
The chancel (about 27 ft. by 13½ ft.) has an east
window of three trefoiled lights and net tracery in a
two-centred head with a hood-mould. The ashlar
splays are probably 14th-century; the south splay is
plumb vertical but the north splay leans northward.
The only piercing in the north wall is a modern doorway in the east half: about 3 ft. east of it outside is the
straight joint of the jamb and four voussoirs of the
segmental head of a former doorway, probably 18thcentury. The three windows in the south wall are each
of two cinquefoiled lights and a quatrefoiled spandrel
in a four-centred head: the splays have a few ancient
stones reworked. Below the eastern is a modern recess
with a segmental-pointed head, marking a former
piscina. All the windows are modern externally. The
east wall is of ancient ashlar and has a low-pitched gablehead. At the angles are old buttresses, the southern
diagonal, the northern square, projecting north. The
plinth is chamfered. The north wall is of 18th-or
early-19th-century ashlar but there is a piece of the
original moulded string-course left in the middle of the
wall outside. The plinth, continued from the east wall,
stops at the former 18th-century doorway. The south
wall also has an old chamfered plinth but above it the
wall of yellow rough ashlar is modern. The lowpitched roof of four bays is modern, with plain trusses
on stone corbels, but on the north side of the westernmost bay below the wall-plate is reset a medieval small
human-head corbel or label-stop.
The 14th-century chancel arch has a two-centred
head of two chamfered orders with medium-sized
voussoirs and a hood-mould of half-round section towards the nave. The responds are similar, but the
inner order has moulded capitals and bases and the
outer is splayed out to square below an impost mould.
The head has been rebuilt and some of the voussoirs
The nave (about 45 ft. by 15½ ft.) has a north arcade
of five 8½-ft. bays with two-centred heads of two chamfered orders in medium small voussoirs and no hoodmoulds. They are carried on 18-in. octagonal pillars
with chamfered bases and moulded capitals. The
capitals of the easternmost and westernmost pillars are
of good 14th-century contour, but those of the responds
and the second and third pillars are of a cruder form
and may be later replacements: the two chamfered
orders of the east respond are merged into one splay
at the foot, 16 in. above the base. Above the capital
of the easternmost pillar (only) the outer orders are
stopped by foliage carving, perhaps influenced by that
at Burton Dassett. The material is a hard yellow-and
grey-veined stone. Above the east respond on the naveside is a square-headed recess formed by the former
doorway to the rood-loft, partly cut into the east wall.
The south arcade is a modern replica of the other.
The clearstory has three 16th-century north windows,
each of two plain four-centred lights under a square
head. On the south side are three modern windows of
two trefoiled lights. The walls are of ashlar and have
The low-pitched roof is of five bays with braced plain
tie-beams, some of which are old: the wall-posts are
carried on plain stone corbels and they have longitudinal
braces below the wall-plates. On the east wall of the
tower is the weather-course of the earlier higher-pitched
nave-roof, its apex a good deal south of the middle of
The north aisle (about 9½ ft. wide) has an east
window of three lights; the segmental-pointed reararch is ancient but the splays have been retooled: the
rest is modern. In the north wall are two windows of
two trefoiled lights under square heads with labels,
completely restored. The late-14th-century north doorway between them has jambs and two-centred head of
two sunk-chamfered orders divided by a three-quarter
hollow and having splayed bases and a plain hood-mould
with man and woman head-stops. In it is an ancient
door of three planks on heavy back framing with rows
of nail-studding and plain strap hinges.
Near the east end of the wall is a plain locker.
The restored west window is of two trefoiled lights
and an elongated quatrefoil in a two-centred head with
The walls are of old yellow ashlar with a splayed
plinth and plain parapet. At the angles are diagonal
buttresses, the eastern in one and the western in two
stages. The flat lean-to roof is modern.
The north porch is of similar masonry but its gabled
roof rises higher than that of the aisle and is covered
with tiles. At the angles are low diagonal buttresses.
The entrance has 14th-century moulded jambs and two
centred head with an external hood-mould on square
block-stops. In it is fixed a pair of late-17th-century
plain doors. In the side walls are plain rectangular lights.
In the gable-head is a stone inscribed hs. wk.cw 1675.
The west tower (about 8 ft. square inside) is of two
stages divided by a plain splayed string-course and has
a plinth of two chamfered courses, the upper projecting.
At the west angles are diagonal buttresses of four stages
reaching nearly to the parapet. There are no east
buttresses. The walls are of coursed squared ashlar of
dark grey-brown stone. The parapet is plain and has
north and south gargoyles. For some reason the tower
is placed in a northerly position with regard to the
nave, the two axial lines differing about 17 inches. (fn. 56)
The archway from the nave is only 6 ft. 4 in. wide in
the clear. It has responds and acute-pointed head of
two chamfered orders without bases or capitals: the
voussoirs are large. On the nave-side is a plain hoodmould. In the west wall is a late-14th-century window
of two cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and an elongated
quatrefoil in a two-centred head with an external hoodmould with head-stops and chamfered rear-arch: the
outer of the two orders is moulded. Below it was a later
doorway with a three-centred head, now blocked. The
bell-chamber windows are similar except that the lights
are trefoiled and the hood-moulds have return stops.
The octagonal spire is of ashlar: the top has been rebuilt
and is now rather blunted; at the apex is a weathercock. At half-height are four small gabled spire-lights
and in the east face is a gabled ogee-headed outlet on
to the gutter behind the parapet.
The communion rails have turned balusters of the
17th century. The font has a modern bowl on an old
circular stem and base; an old plain tapering bowl, now
lying loose, was probably the original. The pulpit, of
hexagonal plan, has five sides of plain fielded panels of
the late 17th century. In the north aisle is a massive
iron-bound chest, probably of the 17th century, with
two out of three hasps for locks and a fine old padlock.
On the north wall of the chancel near the east end
is reset a brass inscription to Richard Willis, died 10
June 1597. In the floor are grave slabs to the Reverend
Matthew Unite, Rector, 1700, to Joyce (Harris) his
wife 1678, and Elizabeth Croke 1718(9). There are
also mural monuments to the last, and others.
There are three bells, (fn. 57) two by Henry Bagley, 1636
and 1662: the second is undated but is perhaps by
John Appowell of Buckingham, c. 1560–70.
The plate includes a communion cup of 1584.
The registers date from 1627.
Henry I confirmed to the Priory of
Kenilworth the grant of the church of
Compton of the fee of Ralph le Boteler
(Pincerne) of Leicester. (fn. 58) It remained in the hands of
the priory until 1284, when the prior and convent
conveyed the advowson to Roger, Bishop of Coventry
and Lichfield. (fn. 59) The rectory was valued in 1291 at
£7 6s. 8d. (fn. 60) and in 1535 at £15 8s. 2d. (fn. 61) In 1547 the
bishop, with the consent of the dean and chapter, sold
the rectory and advowson to Thomas Fisher alias
Hawkins, (fn. 62) who died seised thereof in 1578, (fn. 63) leaving
a son (Sir) Edward, who dissipated his property (fn. 64) and
perhaps mortgaged the advowson to Edward Murcot
who presented to the living in 1617. (fn. 65) A presentation
was made in 1628 by James Horsey, (fn. 66) the son (by his
second wife) of Hannibal Horsey who married Edward
Fisher's daughter Katherine as his first wife. (fn. 67) Aaron
Rogers had acquired the advowson by 1701, when
he presented his son John, (fn. 68) from whom it passed in
about 1727 to his niece Bridget (Willes) and her
husband Thomas Prew. (fn. 69) By 1753 (fn. 70) the advowson
had come to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, who still
The benefice was held c. 1245 by Aymar de Valence,
half-brother of Henry III and, in 1250, Bishop of
Winchester, (fn. 71) and from 1526 to 1533 by Roland Lee,
who as Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield played a
prominent part in the divorce of Henry VIII. (fn. 72)
Annie Augusta Matthews by will
proved 21 March 1918 gave £100 to
the vicar and churchwardens the income
to be applied to the ecclesiastical purposes of the parish.
The endowment now produces £4 18s. 4d. annually
James Archer by will dated 1611 gave £20, the
income to be distributed at the discretion of the constable and churchwardens to twenty of the poorest
cottagers or householders for ever. The income,
amounting to 11s. 4d. annually, is applied for the benefit of the poor.
Richard Reading by will dated 7 October 1816 gave
£100, the income to be given to the poor of the parish
yearly on Good Friday. The legacy was invested, producing an annual income of £2 12s. 4d.
Richard Tuckey by will dated 21 June 1817 gave
the interest on a £100 Stock to the poor of the parish.
The dividends, amounting to £2 12s. 4d. annually, are
applied for the benefit of the poor.
Thomas Blick Reading in 1873 transferred to the
rector and churchwardens for the time being 10 shares
of £2 each of The Fenny Compton Water Co. Ltd.
and directed the interest to be applied to pay the water
rate of such persons as were unable to pay for themselves. The Donor also gave 10 similar shares in the
same company to the guardians and overseers for the
same purpose. The interest on the shares is applied in
accordance with the trusts.