A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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The parish of Loxley lies on the former south-western border of the county, (fn. 1) about 3 miles from Stratford. Its north-western portion includes the flat meadowlands, about 150–200 ft. above ordnance datum, of the broad valley of the Avon, and the ground rises steeply to over 400 ft. on top of the ridge that bounds the valley on its southern side. From the ridge, at Long Hill overlooking Goldicote, there are extensive views of the Malvern Hills, the Cotswolds, and the Avon valley.
The main village lies on the lower slopes of the ridge along two roads, leading uphill to Alderminster and downhill to Stratford. Where these roads fork is a small green with the War Memorial. Loxley Hall stands close to the church, west of the green, on the road to Wellesbourne. It is largely a modern building, but abundant traces of red Kenilworth sandstone in the cellars may indicate that it is on the site of a grange of the Priors of Kenilworth, who held the manor. It includes also a late-17th-century portion of the house with 10 hearths mentioned in 1667. (fn. 2) It was largely rebuilt by John Milward about 1850. (fn. 3) None of the houses and cottages is ancient, except a small farm-house on the north side of the Stratford road, which shows some 17th-century timber-framing and has a thatched roof with dormer windows. There are also some eight or ten isolated farms. Of these, Oakham Farm stands on the high ground near the Wellesbourne-Eatington road. It is a T-shaped house with the main block facing west and built of lower lias stone, considerably repaired at the north and south ends with brick. The wing has been largely rebuilt in brick, on a Keuper sandstone plinth, but some of the lias masonry remains on the north side. The main block has a central chimneystack with two open hearths, and there are traces of open fire-places at the south end of the block and in the wing. The ceilings of most of the rooms have stopchamfered cross-beams and some also have joists similarly treated.
In 1640–2 the inhabitants of Loxley and Walton disputed the course of the road from Warwick to Bath, which each side maintained ran through the other's parish. (fn. 4) The question at issue was the cost of carriage of cripples to Bath, which was chargeable on the poor rates of the parishes through which they passed. The inhabitants of Loxley alleged that the 'usual and common way' was the road that now joins the Fosse at Elder Tree Copse near Pillerton; but the inhabitants of Walton and Thornton eventually produced 'the testimony of five or 6 aged witnesses', some of whom deposed that the road through Loxley had been the usual Bath road 'for 60 years and more', and won their case. Neither road, from Wellesbourne onwards, is marked on any 18th-century map, and both probably fell into disuse after the modern road, which forms the eastern boundary of Loxley parish, was turnpiked in 1754. (fn. 5) The way through Loxley followed the present road from Wellesbourne almost to the church and went southwest past Oakham Farm, joining the modern road in Eatington parish. Beyond the church it is now only a field path, with two stretches of bridle-road, at Blackwells Coppice and descending the hill to Oakham Farm. From the corner near the churchyard a lane runs northwards alongside the grounds of Loxley Hall down to a small brook and is said to have once continued across the fields to Hunscote and Charlecote. (fn. 6)
At the foot of the hill on the Stratford road is a lane branching westwards, which later becomes a field path leading straight across the parish to Alveston Pasture. As two of the fields along its course are called Portway (fn. 7) it is presumably of some antiquity, and beyond the Goldicote brook it crosses a field called Miller's Way. It probably once led into the Stratford-Eatington road, which is of Roman origin and was used as a salt way in the Middle Ages. The Inclosure Award of 1758 gives this as a private cartway for the use of the owners of the new inclosures and mentions as a public bridleroad the field path leading from the Alderminster road above the village to Eatington.
The open fields of the parish were inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1758 (fn. 8) and the Award reveals very clearly the disintegration of the manor described below. The 962 acres dealt with constituted 18½ yard-lands, which, after allowance for roads, gives the high average of 52 acres to the yard-land. It was divided into the Upper and Lower Fields and the Upper and Lower Pastures. The Common Fields lay all round the village, but extended chiefly on its west and south-west sides, the pasture grounds lying close to the south-western boundary of the parish. The latter included the common woodland which was separately allotted in the Award. (fn. 9) The east and north-east portions of the parish, including Loxley Farm and Oakham Farm and the former demesne of the manor, (fn. 10) were not covered by the Award, being apparently already inclosed. There were 7 proprietors in the Common Fields with holdings of from ¼ to 6½ yard-lands. As only 7 farms are given for the whole parish in 1730 (fn. 11) there had probably been some quite recent subdivision, a process which was certainly stimulated by the inclosure, for 12 farms are recorded in the Land Tax Assessment of 1775. (fn. 12) The proprietors were compensated in the Award at rates varying from 39 to 77 acres per yard-land. (fn. 13)
A series of banks about 3 miles in length runs along the slope of the ridge, beginning in Walton and crossing the parish of Loxley from north-east to south-west. They have often been supposed to be the remains of ancient earthworks, (fn. 14) but are now believed to be natural. (fn. 15) Their traditional name probably survives in a field called Chilversditch (fn. 16) near their western extremity.
The tradition that Loxley was the birth-place of Robin Hood appears to have originated with J. R. Planché, who, in a paper read in 1864, followed up Stukeley's derivation of his name from Fitzooth and connected the outlaw with Robert FitzOdo, lord of the manor in the later 12th century. (fn. 17)
At some date between 782 and 795 Offa gave LOXLEY to the cathedral church of Worcester. (fn. 18) But in the time of Canute the monks were deprived of 3 hides here together with the townships of Luddington and Drayton (q.v.), apparently for failure to pay Danegeld. (fn. 19)
In 1086 there were three holdings in Loxley which together make up a 5-hide manor. One hide was still retained by the Bishop of Worcester; (fn. 20) Hugh held of the Count of Meulan 4 hides less a virgate, which Estan had held freely before the Conquest; (fn. 21) the remaining virgate, formerly in the possession of Manegot, was held by Hugh son of Constantius of Hugh de Grantmesnil. (fn. 22)
The count's portion passed to his younger brother Henry de Newburgh, created Earl of Warwick, with whose descendants the overlordship remained at least down to the early 14th century. Thus in 1207 Henry de Newburgh, the 5th earl, granted a knight's fee in Loxley to his mother Alice (widow of Waleran, 4th earl) to hold as her dower, (fn. 23) and in 1315 the Prior of Kenilworth was found to be holding a knight's fee here of Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. (fn. 24)
By the reign of Henry II the manor had come into the possession of Robert FitzOdo of Loxley. (fn. 25) From now on there is increasing evidence of the process of division and subinfeudation which, already apparent in Domesday, characterizes the manorial history of Loxley down to the 19th century. A knight's fee here held in many portions is returned in 1236. (fn. 26) But most of the land was acquired, from various sources, by the canons of Kenilworth. Robert FitzOdo himself sold them 120 acres of his demesne, which the church of Stone (a cell of Kenilworth) had formerly held of him; (fn. 27) and in addition made them a gift of pasture for 10 oxen and 100 sheep in his demesne. (fn. 28)
Robert FitzOdo was dead by 1196 (fn. 29) and left as his heirs three daughters—Basilia, married to Peter de Mora, Agnes, married to William Trussell of Billesley, and Margery, married to William Bagot. (fn. 30) Basilia's grandson, Peter de Mora, granted the manor-house and all his possessions belonging to it to Kenilworth Priory in 1253. (fn. 31) The Trussell estate appears to have descended to Agnes's son and heir Richard, (fn. 32) but afterwards to a younger branch of the Billesley line, represented in the reign of Edward III by William Trussell of Floore (Northants.) and Nuthurst, Admiral of the King's fleet in the west and escheator south of the Trent. (fn. 33) In 1351 Gilbert Chasteleyn declared that he had acquired in see a messuage, 2 carucates, 12 acres of meadow, and £8 rent in Loxley of the inheritance of William Trussell and petitioned to be discharged from all demands that might be made on the premises on the ground of Trussell's having been a minister of the King. (fn. 34) Trussell's great-grandson, William Trussell of Nuthurst, and Baldwin Freville, husband of his halfsister Elizabeth, jointly accounted for half a knight's fee in Loxley in 1428. (fn. 35) William Bagot and John de Curly were said to be lords of Loxley in 1258, (fn. 36) and Gilbert Bagot paid 4s.—the highest contribution in the village—to the subsidy of 1332. (fn. 37)
In 1288 the Prior of Kenilworth made an agreement with the Bishop of Worcester whereby certain of his lands in Loxley were exempted from suit of court called 'rodknyt' at the bishop's hundred of Pathlow. (fn. 38) In 1291 Kenilworth was holding a carucate of land, a mill, (fn. 39) and certain rents of the total value of £1 8s. (fn. 40)
Certain lands in Loxley were sold with the manor of Walton Mauduit by the Earl of Warwick to Simon de Wauton, Bishop of Norwich (1258–66). (fn. 41) The bishop conveyed them to John de Wauton, (fn. 42) who was probably his great-nephew. Subsequently John de Wauton received from Walter Giffard, Archbishop of York (1266–79), a grant of the two Walton manors and all his land in Loxley; (fn. 43) this was possibly the carucate and 100s. in rents which Henry le Foun and Isabel his wife quitclaimed to the archbishop in 1278. (fn. 44) The archbishop was perhaps acting as trustee for John de Wauton whose daughter and heir, Maud, was in 1279 a ward of Godfrey Giffard, Bishop of Worcester, Walter's younger brother. (fn. 45) Maud married, first John de Stradling, by whom she had no issue, and secondly John le Strange. (fn. 46) In 1294 it was said that John de Wauton had done homage for his land in Loxley to the Prior of Kenilworth and that John de Stradling had offered to do so, but that, as he had had no issue by his wife, the prior was unwilling to receive it. (fn. 47)
In the 14th century a considerable estate in Loxley was held by John de Peyto, the younger, of Chesterton. (fn. 48) In 1351 he granted part of it, including 14 messuages, 2 carucates and 5 virgates of land, to Kenilworth Priory. (fn. 49) On his death in 1374 his estates, including 9 messuages, 4 carucates, 12 acres of meadow, and 20s. rent in Loxley, were seized for debts owed to the Crown and custody of them was granted 20 years later to William de Arundel. (fn. 50)
In 1535 Kenilworth received a total sum of £10 7s. 4½d. from the manor, (fn. 51) of which the site and demesnes had been leased since 1521 to Matthew Croft. (fn. 52) By 1538, when there were nine copyholders and one freeholder with 10¼ virgates between them, the lessee was John Croft, (fn. 53) and he seems to have been succeeded by Robert Croft. (fn. 54)
The manor of Loxley was granted in 1539–40 to Lady Joan Rochford for her life (fn. 55) and in 1542 to Thomas Cawarden in tail. (fn. 56) On the latter's death without issue in 1559 (fn. 57) it reverted to the Crown and was sold to Lewis Greville of Milcote, (fn. 58) who sold it in 1568 to William Underhill of Idlicote. (fn. 59) William died seised of the manor in 1570 (fn. 60) and in 1588 his son William sold it to his second cousin, Thomas Underhill of Eatington. (fn. 61) Thomas died in 1622 and his son Thomas was lord of the manor in 1632 (fn. 62) and was living here as late as 1653. (fn. 63) The manor next came to Sir Simon Clarke of Broom Court, (fn. 64) who settled it in 1640 on his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Mark Parker, probably the son of Thomas Parker of Spernall. (fn. 65) Mark Parker left Loxley in 1662 or 1663 (fn. 66) and was buried at Spernall in 1666. (fn. 67) In 1665 he conveyed the manor to Edward Nash, (fn. 68) 'a captain in Oliver's Army', (fn. 69) and second cousin of Thomas Nash of Stratford, husband of Shakespeare's granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall. (fn. 70) His daughter and heir Mary married Reginald, son and heir of Sir Reginald Forster, bart., of Greenwich. (fn. 71) Nash died in 1679 at Greenwich, (fn. 72) but Forster had apparently settled at Loxley at some time between 1667 and 1670. (fn. 73) He succeeded his father as 2nd bart. in 1684, was Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1688–9, and died in 1705. (fn. 74) His daughter Jane succeeded to his estates and married Franklyn Miller of Hyde Hall, Herts, (fn. 75) who was holding the manor in Dr. Thomas's time. (fn. 76) He died in 1728 and his widow in 1732, and their grandson, Nicholas Franklyn Miller, who succeeded, died before attaining his majority. (fn. 77) The estates therefore passed to Jane, daughter of Franklyn and Jane Miller, who had married William Norcliffe of the Inner Temple. (fn. 78) William Norcliffe died in 1735 and Reginald Miller Norcliffe, their only son, in 1740, at the age of 20. (fn. 79) Jane Norcliffe's heir was Edward Mundy of Shipley, Derbyshire, who had married her niece Hester (sister of Nicholas Franklyn Miller). (fn. 80) He is given as lord of the manor in 1757 (fn. 81) and his son Edward Miller Mundy in 1776. (fn. 82) Edward sold it in the latter year to Leonard Court of Shottery, (fn. 83) whose son William sold it to Charles Henry Hunt, a banker of Stratford, in 1789. (fn. 84) In 1800 Hunt went bankrupt and his estates were sold. (fn. 85)
In 1801 the manorial rights were said to attach to Oakham Farm (fn. 86) and the evidence of field-names makes it clear that this and no more was the 'manor . . . or reputed manor . . . of Loxley' held by Leonard Court in 1776. The association may go back still farther, since Jane Norcliffe was occupying Oakham Farm, in right of which she had a pew in the church, in 1741. (fn. 87) The farm was apparently sold by Charles Henry Hunt's trustees to John Hunter, (fn. 88) but Bernard Dewes of Wellesbourne is given as lord of the manor in 1805 (fn. 89) and had acquired all Hunt's property here by 1810. (fn. 90) His son John Dewes was dealing with the manor in 1829 (fn. 91) and this is the last authentic reference to a manor of Loxley. By 1872 the manorial rights had been extinguished. (fn. 92) The Dewes property was for sale in 1831 (fn. 93) and was apparently bought by John Milward (fn. 94) who rebuilt Loxley Hall. (fn. 95) He was succeeded in the later 1850's by James Cove Jones, (fn. 96) from whose son C. W. B. Cove Jones the property passed about 1914 to Mr. George Kendall. (fn. 97) Mr. Kendall's executors sold it in 1928 to Major Gregory-Hood, the present owner of Loxley Hall. Oakham Farm is now the property of Lady Mordaunt.
The Domesday holding of the monks of Worcester seems by the 13th century to have taken the form of rents, to the value of 18s., which were appropriated to the chamberlain of the monastery. (fn. 98) In 1258 William Bagot and John Curly, lords of Loxley, and others of the inhabitants were excommunicated for the nonpayment of these rents. (fn. 99) There was further trouble in 1348 when Bishop Wolstan himself came to Loxley and the parishioners swore before him to discharge the arrears. (fn. 100) In 1542 the rents were granted to the Dean and Chapter.
Stoneleigh Abbey received a grant of a messuage and 3 acres from Richard Trussell, son of William and grandson of Robert Fitzodo, (fn. 102) and other land here from Robert's other grandson Ralph de la More. (fn. 103) Abbot Osbert (1235–58) leased land here to Roger de Ludlow. (fn. 104) Hugh de Mutona, son of Hugh, in the reign of Edward I (fn. 105) and Hugh de Clifford (fn. 106) each gave another virgate, and the abbey acquired in 1346 the reversion of 12 acres of land. (fn. 107) The Stoneleigh property was valued at £1 9s. 9d. in 1535 (fn. 108) and was granted three years later to Leonard Worseley of Kineton. (fn. 109)
The parish church of ST. NICHOLAS is a small building consisting of a chancel, nave, and a south-west tower, with a vestry south of the chancel. The tower is medieval, probably a part of the church dedicated by Godfrey Giffard, Bishop of Worcester, in 1286. (fn. 110) It opened into a former south aisle (east of it) as well as to the nave. The remainder of the church was rebuilt about the middle of the 18th century; the walls are plastered inside and out and have wooden moulded and bracketed eaves cornices to the tiled roofs. Restorations were carried out in 1923–4.
The chancel (16 ft. by 12½ ft.) has an east, a north, and a south window all with semicircular heads. In the east half of the south wall is re-set a 13th-century lancet window of red sandstone. In front of it inside is set a 12th-century pillar piscina with a scalloped capital, a half-octagonal stem, and moulded base. At the west end of the wall is a round-headed doorway into the vestry. The chancel arch also has a round head, all plastered. All the window heads have key-blocks and imposts.
The nave (c. 41 ft. by 20 ft.) has two north and two south round-headed windows, and a west doorway with a circular window over it. At the west end of the south wall is an archway, probably late-13th-century, into the tower; it has semi-octagonal responds; the east impost is moulded, the western a plain grooved and chamfered stone; they may be 12th-century stones adapted. The head is pointed and of two chamfered orders. The arch was revealed by the removal of the western gallery during the restorations. Next east of it is one stone voussoir, probably of the next arch in a former south arcade.
The tower (8 ft. 4 in. square inside) is of three stages; the lower two stages of the west wall are of rubble with a chamfered plinth; between it and the nave is a buttress in two stages and at the south-west angle a diagonal buttress. In the upper story is a small round-headed light of brown stone. The south face is of neatly coursed but perished ashlar in thin squared stones of the same brown material. It has a square-headed window of two lights of the 16th century. In the upper story is a lancet window. At the south-east angle are ashlar dressings. In the east wall was an archway to the former south aisle now filled in with rough masonry and fitted with a doorway, now also blocked. The south respond of the arch is partly exposed inside. South of the blocking is a short stump of the former south aisle wall and above it the weather-course of the lean-to roof. The bell chamber is built of ashlar and has a round-headed window in each wall. The parapet is embattled. The tower seems to have been repaired and altered in detail several times.
The vestry is probably of the same date as the 18thcentury main building: in its south window are re-set, one above the other, in each jamb two moulded and square stone balusters from a 17th-century building. Against this wall outside are arranged nine well carved gravestones and parts of a table tomb, all to members of the Southam family, the earliest of 1681.
There are two bells: one with Lombardic letters, mostly alphabet, and crown and [IHS] stops, probably by John Appowell of Buckingham (c. 1560–70), the other of 1632 by Hugh Watts of Leicester. (fn. 111)
The communion plate includes a cup, paten, almsplate, and flagon given in 1740 by Mrs. Jane Norcliffe. (fn. 112)
The registers of baptisms and marriages begin in 1540 and of burials in 1601, but there are many gaps for the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 113)
There was a priest on the Count of Meulan's holding in 1086. (fn. 114) Robert FitzOdo made a grant of the advowson of the church to the Priory of Stone in Staffordshire. (fn. 115) In 1196 the Prior of Stone was summoned to show by what right he had deprived Basilia de Lokele (sic) (Robert's daughter) of the right of presentation, but refused to answer without his superior, the Prior of Kenilworth. (fn. 116) An agreement was evidently reached, as Basilia de Mora in 1199 granted that the church of Loxley was to remain to Stone as her father had given it. (fn. 117) In 1253 Peter de Mora gave the church, with other property in Loxley, to Kenilworth, (fn. 118) who retained it until the fall of the monasteries. (fn. 119) The Prior of Stone released all his rights in the church to the Prior of Kenilworth in 1292. (fn. 120)
In 1285 the Prior and Convent of Kenilworth were involved in a dispute with Giffard, Bishop of Worcester over the latter's right of visitation of Loxley and others of their appropriated churches in his diocese. (fn. 121)
The advowson was granted with the manor to Thomas Cawarden in 1542. (fn. 122) After his death the advowson was retained by the Crown, (fn. 123) and in 1845 the Lord Chancellor was patron (fn. 124) but by 1872, Sir R.N.C. Hamilton, 6th bart., of Avoncliffe, Stratford-on-Avon. (fn. 125) On the latter's death in 1887 the advowson descended to his son the 7th bart., of Baraset near Stratford, who was holding it in 1890. (fn. 126) But before 1896 it passed by some means to the trustees of the late Miss Frances Smith and in 1913 to George Kendall. It was acquired from Mr. Kendall's executors by Major Gregory Hood, the present patron, in 1928.
The church was valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291 and 1340. (fn. 127) In 1535 it was worth £5 6s. 8d., (fn. 128) and a pension of 13s. 4d. was paid by the Abbey of Kenilworth for the augmentation of the vicarage. (fn. 129)
The rectory appears to have descended with the advowson until about 1758, the year of the Inclosure Award, when it was held by Tempest Hay of Loxley. The great tithes of the open field portion of the parish then commuted were valued at £54. Tempest Hay died in 1764, having bequeathed all his estates to his son Thomas and his children by any future wife (provided that Thomas did not remarry with any connexion of his then wife, Muriel Ayshcombe); with remainder to the children of John Hay, his late brother. (fn. 130) The repair of the chancel of the church was said in 1802 to be chargeable on the farm that Tempest Hay had occupied. (fn. 131)
To the list of vicars given by Dugdale may be added two, intruded most probably during the Commonwealth period: 'Mr. Jones', who occurs in 1651, and Henry Ballard in 1652. (fn. 132) Among later vicars who became minor celebrities, George Huddesford (1803–9) achieved some reputation as a satirist and painter and was a pupil of Reynolds, to whom he sat for the 'Portrait of Two Gentlemen', now in the National Gallery. (fn. 133) James White (1833) was the author of The Eighteen Christian Centuries and a number of historical tragedies.
Most of his work, however, was done at Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, whither he retired after vacating the living at Loxley. (fn. 134)
Margaret Underhill by will dated 22 Dec. 1780 gave £100 to the minister, churchwardens and overseers, the interest on which, amounting to £2 8s. 8d. annually, is distributed in calico to the poor of the parish.