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 Morton Bagot lies about 1½ miles east of the Birmingham-Alcester road and across the valley of a small brook which flows south-east to join the Arrow. A road from Oldberrow to Spernall runs north and south through the middle of the parish, past the church, and a section of the road from Wootton Wawen to Mappleborough Green forms part of the northern boundary. The elevation varies from 200 to 400 ft., the highest point being at Bannum's Wood, (fn. 1) where there is an old gravel-pit.
There is no main village and there has been considerable depopulation here since the 18th century. (fn. 2)
Church Farm, south of the parish church, dates from about 1580. The timber-framing is covered with rough-cast cement and at the back replaced with brick. The roofs are tiled, and the main block has a fine central chimney-stack of six detached square shafts of thin bricks with V-shaped pilasters on the faces. The plan appears to have been T-shaped originally, with the head of the T facing north. The west room has a wide fireplace with oak lintel and a fixed oak dresser probably as old as the house. The rooms have stop-chamfered ceiling-beams and some exposed joists. The roof trusses have plain tie-beams, collar-beams, queen-posts, and heavy purlins. The front entrance has an 18thcentury doorway with a hood; the windows have modern frames: in the roof are tall flush dormers.
Traces of a moat near the farm may perhaps mark the site of a building described in the 17th century as Lord Carington's Lodge House, which was then the largest house in the village but has now quite disappeared. (fn. 3)
Greenhill Farm, south of the church, is of irregular plan and probably late-15th-century origin. The original plan seems to have been T-shaped, formed by the main block, facing west and comprising the hall (18 ft. square) and north chamber (18 ft. by 13½ ft.), and two bays of the south wing. The latter was extended about 20 ft. westwards, probably early in the 16th century, and early in the 17th the hall was heightened from 7 ft. to 9 ft. and the angle staircase and short north-west wing (about 16 ft. square) added. The whole house was timber-framed, but has been considerably repaired or cased with 18th-century and later brickwork. (fn. 4)
The main block shows square timber-framing in the upper story of the west front, the gabled north end, and at the back next to the wide, projecting chimneystack of the hall. The stack is gathered in at the sides and is ancient up to the rectangular shaft.
The staircase is encased with brick but shows timberframing inside. The south wing has rectangular framing on the middle and east bay of the south side from ground to eaves; and in the north side of the projecting west bay is close-set studding to the lower story and rectangular to the upper: the gabled west front and the south side of the bay are of brick casing, but the original close 'post-and-panel' work is seen inside. The short north wing shows square framing to the upper story and the gable heads.
The hall and north chamber (buttery ?) show chamfered main beams with moulded stops, and square joists. The framed partition between the two is of the 17th century, but that between the hall and south wing was raised when the hall ceiling was heightened. The hall has a stone-flagged floor and a north fireplace, 9 ft. wide, with chamfered oak lintel. The staircase off the south-west corner has 17th-century plain newels and turned balusters.
The south wing has open timbered ceilings, probably of the 17th century, on both floors, with stop-chamfered main beams, longitudinal in the middle and east but transverse in the western bay. The partition between the two former remains in the upper story and has very heavy posts. In the east room extra wall-plates, carried on brackets, take the joists.
The unpierced partition between the two rooms of the main block has a very curved beam at the top, apparently selected to take the ceiling beams without disturbing the side walls. The partition-truss above it in the attic or roof space has plain collar-beams and posts carrying a ridge-pole, and two purlins on each side, the lower with light wind-braces. A similar truss over the side of the south wing has some smoke-blackened timbers; many of the rafters of the main roof are of later repair. The lower south wing has wide flat rafters, sidepurlins, and a ridge-pole.
Netherstead, nearly 1¼ miles south-west of the church, is a 16th-century timber-framed house, facing west, of L-shaped plan, enlarged southwards in the 17th century. The front block is in three bays, the two northernmost being Elizabethan with a fine central chimney-stack: this is of thin bricks and has three shafts, two each with two flues and one with a single flue: they are rectangular with V-shaped pilasters. The walls are covered with rough-cast cement. In the middle is a gabled porchwing. The north end has a projecting gable-head with a moulded bressummer. The south bay and wing is refaced with 18th-century brick, but the back half of the wing is of timber-framing; the east end is gabled and there is alsoa framed agable-head to the middle wing. The Elizabethan rooms have moulded ceiling-beams and one of them a wide fire-place. The south wing has 17th-century stop-chamfered beams.
The parish was inclosed by an Act of 1806. (fn. 5)
In 1086 MORTON, which had formerly been held by Grimulf, was held as 2 hides by Hugh from Robert de Stafford. (fn. 6) The overlordship continued in the hands of the Staffords until at least 1403; (fn. 7) but in 1560 the manor was said to be held of Sir Edward Aston. (fn. 8)
Although direct evidence is lacking, the manor seems to have come to Robert son of Odo of Loxley in the 12th century. His co-heirs were three daughters, who married respectively Peter de Mora, William Trussell, and William Bagot. (fn. 9) Peter's grandson and namesake gave the advowson of Morton church, with land here, to Kenilworth Priory, (fn. 10) and the descendants of Trussell and Bagot each held a manor, distinguished from about 1300 as MORTON BAGOT. Robert Bagot occurs in 1220 as buying 5 acres in Morton, (fn. 11) and was holding half a knight's fee here jointly with William Trussell from Robert de Stafford in 1242. (fn. 12)
The Bagots apparently held the manor until 1296, when William Bagot the younger conveyed it to Roger de Conyngesby and Joan his wife, with the reversion of land held for life by Henry Bagot. (fn. 13) In 1303 Roger de Conyngesby was granted free warren in his demesne lands of Morton Bagot. (fn. 14) In 1316 Morton Bagot, with the hamlets of Spernall, Offord, and others were held by William Trussell, Roger de Conyngesby, and Thomas Durvassall. (fn. 15) To a subsidy of 1327, John Trussell was assessed for land here at 4s. 5½d., Edmund Trussell at 3s. 4d., and John Conyngesby at 4s. 5½d. (fn. 16) This John son of Roger (fn. 17) disputed with the Prior and Convent of Kenilworth the patronage of Morton Bagot church in 1333, (fn. 18) and was a commissioner to administer the Statute of Labourers some twenty years later (fn. 19); and in 1365 William son of John Conyngesby of Morton Bagot occurs in connexion with lands in Ullenhall. (fn. 20) William had no issue and the manor passed through his sister to her granddaughter (fn. 21) Alice, the wife of Richard Archer, who in 1436 made a settlement of the manor and advowson on herself and her heirs. (fn. 22) Alice died in 1461 without issue, and her cousin, Thomas Conyngesby, claimed the manor as heir, but the feoffees said that at the request of Alice they had released the manor to Richard Archer to be sold and the money used for masses for the souls of Richard and Alice and their ancestors. (fn. 23) They also claimed that Thomas was no cousin of Alice, since his great-grandfather Thomas was the bastard son of William, and that William had no such brother John, now claimed to be great-grandfather of Alice. (fn. 24) Thomas evidently established his claim, but early in the 16th century his descendant William was suing the Archers over the detention of the deeds of the manor. (fn. 25) In 1536 the manor was conveyed from Humphrey Conyngesby to Richard Conyngesby for life, and then to Richard's eldest son, Humphrey, for life, with reversion to the sons of the elder Humphrey. (fn. 26) The latter's son John died in 1567, (fn. 27) and his son Humphrey in 1593 conveyed the manor to Nicholas Conyngesby. (fn. 28) The last member of the family to hold the manor seems to have been Thomas Coningsby, who in 1629 sold it to Richard Butler and William Gibbons. (fn. 29) The subsequent descent is obscure. It seems to have passed from William Hichinson and Lettice his wife to John Tumbrell in 1676. (fn. 30) Andrew Archer occurs as lord of the manor in 1719 and 1721. (fn. 31) Probably the estate subsequently became merged in the second manor.
We have seen that in 1242 William Trussell held part of this half-fee, and that in 1316 and 1327 other members of the family held lands here. In 1383 Sir Fulk de Pennebrugge and Margaret his wife, the daughter of William Trussell, (fn. 32) conveyed to Sir Alfred Trussell in tail male the manor of MORTON BAGOT. (fn. 33) In 1389 and 1403 the fee of Morton is recorded as shared between Alfred Trussell and the Prior of Kenilworth. (fn. 34) The manor passed out of the family in 1581, when John Trussell and Mary his wife sold it to William Edmunds alias Yeomans. (fn. 35) Some time early in the 17th century, Jane widow of Richard Locksmith bought the manors of Morton Bagot and NETHERSTEAD (now and nearly always hereafter mentioned together), from Nicholas and John Edmonds for £2,000 of her own money, but the conveyance was made to Sir Edward Creswell and his heirs in trust for Jane, Sir Edward being then her suitor in marriage. He, however, died before the marriage and Jane, after proceedings against his brother and heir Robert Creswell, secured the manor in 1634 and married Sir Robert Sharpey, thinking him to have a like estate to her own, but finding him in fact to be greatly in debt. To relieve the position Sir Robert and Jane sold the manor in about 1641 to John Holliock for £2,200, of which £200 was paid down, and then John refused to pay the remainder, bringing up the claims of the Creswells and of 'one Cunnisbie', who claimed one tenement, and saying that the Sharpeys had no settled right to the manor and therefore could not sell it. Dame Jane, now again a widow, claimed that John Holliock had presumed upon her necessities to make her accept less than was due, and the suit was continued in 1661 after her death by Jane Rudgate her daughter and sole executrix. (fn. 36) An entry in the Quarter Sessions Order Book of 1656 (fn. 37) refers to Mr. John Hollyock the elder, who 'pretends to be lord of the said manor, which, although this Court disallowed of such his allegations', he was excused from service as constable, John Hollyock the younger being ordered to serve in his stead. John Holyoake senior died in 1667 (fn. 38) and the William Holyoake who disclaimed the right to arms in the visitation of 1683 was probably his eldest son. (fn. 39) The manors, however, seem to have passed to John Holyoake junior, who with Susan his wife was dealing with them in 1676 (fn. 40) and 1699. (fn. 41) John died in 1705 leaving his estate—not referred to in his will as a manor—to his nephew William, who left it in 1714 to his son John. (fn. 42) John Holyoake, who died in 1765, appears to have divided the property between his two sons Thomas and Francis, and settled the manors of Morton Bagot and Netherstead on the latter on his marriage to Anne Pearson of Wolverhampton in 1756. (fn. 43) Francis, who became a banker in Wolverhampton and lived at Tettenhall, bought up his elder brother's share in 1766 and in 1784 added Greenhill to the estate. (fn. 44) He died without issue in 1795, leaving all his property to his brother Thomas's son Francis. (fn. 45) The latter inherited Studley Castle by his marriage with a niece of Phillips Lyttelton and died in 1835. His son Francis Lyttelton Holyoake is already described as lord of the manor of Morton Bagot in 1827; (fn. 46) he took the additional name of Goodricke and on his death in 1865 was succeeded by Thomas Walker of Studley Castle and Berkswell, and in 1887 (fn. 47) by the latter's son Thomas Eades Walker, whose trustees were lords of the manor in 1900. (fn. 48)
In 1903 the Studley Castle Estate was purchased by the Earl of Warwick's trustees for the purpose of housing the Countess of Warwick's Horticultural School for Girls, and in 1929 was again sold to the present Governors of Studley College, the manor of Morton Bagot being mentioned in the conveyance. (fn. 49)
Greenhill is first mentioned in 1262. (fn. 50) A Henry de Grenhull is assessed to the lay subsidies of 1327 (fn. 51) and 1332 (fn. 52) and in 1349 confirmed to John de Coningsby senior lands in Morton Bagot that Nicholas his father had received of Roger de Coningsby. (fn. 53) In the 17th century Greenhill belonged to the Burton family; John Burton figures in a prolonged controversy at Quarter Sessions (1629–50) over payment of rates; (fn. 54) Thomas Burton of Greenhill died in 1710, his son Thomas in 1711, and John Burton, the last of the family of whom there is mention here, in 1718. (fn. 55) In 1784 the property, then in the occupation of William Tabberer, was sold by Richard younger son of John Walford to Francis Holyoake. (fn. 56)
The nuns of Cookhill Priory had a small property here which was valued at 6s. 8d. yearly in 1535. (fn. 57)
A park in Morton Bagot is mentioned in 1349, (fn. 58) and again in 1667, when it belonged to Lord Carington.
The parish church of the HOLYTRINITY is a small building consisting of a chancel, nave, and south porch. It stands on a mound with a steep bank to the south. It dates from the end of the 13th century, but the east wall may have been rebuilt and the west end of the nave extended in the 15th century. The south porch and the tiled roofs and bell-turret are of about 1600.
The chancel (19 ft. by 14½ ft.) has a 15th-century east window of three cinquefoiled pointed lights and plain piercings in a round head with a segmentalpointed rear-arch. In the north wall are two windows, the eastern a pair of trefoiled pointed lights of the late 13th century, mostly of red sandstone outside; the segmental-pointed rear-arch is chamfered. The western is a single trefoiled light: the rear-arch is of square section. Of the two windows in the south wall the eastern is similar to that opposite. The second is a single light: it has an unusual head with a crude trefoil, soffit cusps, and a narrow trefoil piercing over, in a two-centred arch; the segmental-pointed rear-arch is slightly chamfered. The lower half is walled up, and was probably a 'low-side'. The masonry of the chancel walls is mostly of largish square stone rubble, more or less coursed, but the gabled east wall contains square pieces of white spongy limestone almost like tufa (perhaps brought from a 12th-century building elsewhere) in the lower part up to the window, including one 11-in. course 26 in. above the footings: the upper part has a change of rubble but with a few pieces of the same tufa-like stone. Its square buttresses, of one stage in a brown stone, are probably later additions, as they meet the side-walls with broken seams.
The chancel-arch is two-centred and of two-chamfered orders both in jambs and head, but having capitals of a simple moulding carved with a primitive leaf ornament; the west face has square base-stops: they are hidden in the floor on the east side.
The nave (36 ft. by c.14½ ft.) has only one window in the north wall, near the east end; it is of two lights with trefoiled pointed heads, formed by soffit-cusps: the rear-arch is round. In the west half of the wall is the north doorway, now bricked up: it is of red sandstone outside and has chamfered jambs and pointed head: probably, like the window, of the end of the 13th century. The south wall has two windows: the eastern, of the early 14th century, is of three cinquefoiled pointed lights and cusped intersecting tracery in a twocentred head, with a chamfered segmental-pointed reararch: the jambs are of two chamfered orders and the exterior of grey stone.
The second is of two trefoiled lights, of the late 13th century, all of red sandstone outside: it has a flat lintel in place of a rear-arch. The south doorway farther west, of the same date and also of red sandstone, has singlechamfered jambs and two-centred head with a plain rounded hood-mould which has defaced head-stops: the jambs are much worn away by honing of knives.
In the west wall is a window, probably contemporary, of two cinquefoiled pointed wide lights and a quatrefoiled spandrel in a two-centred, almost semicircular, head with a pointed rear-arch: the exterior is of weatherworn red sandstone.
The north and south walls of the nave are partly plastered, but where exposed in the western parts are mostly of narrow lias rubble. The two later buttresses on the north wall and the diagonal buttresses of the west wall contain much of the tufa-like stone. The gabled west wall is mostly of rough rubble of thin grey stones, with some larger stones above the rough plinth.
The roof is divided into two and a half bays by new tie-beams on which are old queen-posts: the old principal rafters have straight wind-braces. Near the west end is an ancient truss to carry the bell turret above the roof: it has a rough tie-beam and queen-posts.
The south porch is partly of old timber-framing, probably 17th-century, repaired with 18th-century bricks in the side walls. The gabled front has angle posts, one a re-used moulded beam from elsewhere, and a highly cambered tie-beam with straight struts below it. Near the main wall is a truss with a straight tie-beam supported by struts from posts which have moulded shaped heads.
In the south wall of the chancel is a piscina with a plain ogee head and a half-round projecting sill carved with leaf ornament as in the chancel-arch: the basin, if any, is filled in flush with the sill.
The font is a plain octagonal stone, thickly colourwashed, with a moulding of the 13th century at the top and another at half height. It has a 16th-century flat wood cover with moulded cross-framing and pierced by two holes for the former staples.
The altar-rails are apparently modern, incorporating traceried heads from a 15th-century screen. The fixed parts have, each half, five bays of c. 8–9½ inches and a half bay at the end: the tracery in the middle gates seems to be a modern copy.
The communion plate includes a cup 5¾ in. high, chased with a band of plain ornament around the bowl, and its cover-paten with the date 1571: they have no date letter. There are also a salver and flagon of 1795.
The two bells are probably of the early 16th century: the smaller, inscribed 'Sanctae Trinitas', is by an unknown founder; the other is inscribed with the name 'Maria' four times and has crosses, fleurs-de-lis, and king's heads as stops between them; it came from the Worcester foundry, probably by Nicholas Grene (died 1547). (fn. 59)
In 1253–4 Peter de Mora granted the church to the canons of Kenilworth, (fn. 60) who were presenting from 1293 to 1359 and again in 1412 and 1432, (fn. 61) though in 1333 John de Coningsby disputed their right to do so. (fn. 62) Sir William Trussell presented in 1361 (fn. 63) and the Trussell family seem to have held the advowson during the greater part of the 15th and 16th centuries. The Rev. Maurice Gwynn presented in 1610, (fn. 64) but in 1635 the patronage was held, with the manor, by Sir Robert Sharpey (fn. 65) and in 1660 by John Holyoake. John Horsley was patron in 1730 (fn. 66) and so continued until his death in 1768. (fn. 67) The advowson came soon afterwards into the hands of the Rev. Samuel Peshall, who was both rector and patron in 1788, (fn. 68) and in 1792 Sir John Peshall with other members of his family conveyed it to William Chrees, probably for a settlement. (fn. 69) During the second half of the 19th century the advowson descended with the manor until 1898, when it came into the hands of Mrs. Peshall, wife of the rector of Oldberrow. (fn. 70) The Rev. Samuel and Mrs. Peshall have presented alternately since 1902. (fn. 71)
The mortuary fees of the parish belonged to the Priory of Wootton Wawen, whose right was disputed in Edward II's time by the then rector, John de Bradewas, on the ground that as the church belonged to Kenilworth, Wootton was only entitled to a fourth part. The controversy was finally settled in favour of Wootton by an order in Chancery 1325–6. (fn. 75)