A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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Preston Bagot lies about 1½ miles east of Henley-inArden. The parish is of unusual shape, the greater part of it being in the form of a rough parallelogram lying north and south, with a smaller rectangular piece at the south end, connected by a very narrow neck of land between the parishes of Wootton Wawen and Claverdon. The boundaries are at least as old as 1822, (fn. 1) but the southward extension, forming Preston Hill Farm, (fn. 2) belonged to the lords of the manor of Wootton Wawen (q.v.). (fn. 3) In the 17th and early 18th centuries Preston Bagot was a hamlet or liberty in the large constabulary of Claverdon. (fn. 4) The return of freeholders in Preston Bagot was made by a third-borough at least up to 1731, but it had apparently become a constabulary by 1740, (fn. 5) though the orders of Quarter Sessions contain no record of the change.
Preston Bagot brook, a tributary of the Alne, runs south-west across the parish. The ground lies between 200 and 300 ft. above Ordnance datum, the highest point being the hill on which the church stands, which commands an extensive southward view towards the Cotswolds.
The main road from Henley-in-Arden to Warwick crosses the parish from west to east. Near the Crab Mill Inn a branch road leads northward through the village and then forks into two lanes which run on either side of the church hill to Lowsonford and are connected, within the parish, by a road known in the 17th and 18th centuries as Rushwood Lane. (fn. 6) From the more westerly of the two another road leads through the hamlet of Kite Green to Henley and Beaudesert. The main road bears sharply to the right, towards Warwick, a few yards past the manor-house, but the original line is continued for a short distance by a bridle path along the side of the canal. This was most probably a part of the road from Henley to Coventry marked on the map issued by Morden (c. 1695). The mention in 1737 of a piece of ground called the Old Lane approximately in this position (fn. 7) suggests that it was by then disused and partly inclosed. The surviving portion was no doubt kept open owing to the canal traffic in the early 19th century.
The Manor House, 3/8 mile south of the church, dates from about 1570–80. (fn. 8) It is built almost entirely of close-set framing, on stone foundations, with herringbone brick infilling, and is of two stories and attics and cellars, with some modern brick additions. The plan is square, with two outer gabled wings running east and west connected by two parallel gabled blocks running the other way. The story-posts to the gabled walls and sides of the outer wings carry straight braces below the wall-plates and tie-beams, the only variation in the style of framing. Few of the windows are left unaltered, several are blocked. The entrance was probably in the middle of the west front, but a square bay-window has taken its place and the present entrance was moved next north into the north wing, the partitions being altered so that the entrance-hall was enlarged. The principal rooms are in the middle block and north wing. The lower rooms have open-timbered ceilings with stop-chamfered main beams, and the upper rooms have moulded beams. A chimney-stack between the two rooms of the north wing has wide fire-places to the lower story, and a fire-place in the north-west room on the first floor is of moulded stonework: above the roof it has a stack of six conjoined diagonal shafts of thin bricks. One room is lined with reset late-16th-century panelling. The cellars are original and were lighted in the north and east walls by moulded stone windows, mostly blocked; they have 18th-century brick vaulting. The roofs have plain trusses and the purlins have straight wind-braces.
Church Farm, west of the church, is a small Tudor building, remodelled in the 17th century. The walls are of timber-framing on stone foundations. The framing is square with brick infilling, except the lower story of the north side, which is of close-set studding with plastered infilling. The east gable has a heavy cambered tie-beam. The central chimney-stack between the two rooms has a wide fire-place but is modern above the roof.
Hazel Wood Farm, ½ mile north of the church, is a 17th-century house of L-shaped plan, now encased in brick but having a timber-framed wing or outbuilding adjoining the east side. The house has a chimney-stack near the north end of the north wing with a saltireshaped shaft; a very rare feature is a small pigeon-cote built on the west side of the chimney-stack between crow-stepped side walls and having about a dozen pigeon-holes. It appears to be nearly as old as the chimney.
The Rectory, which lies below the church on the west side, is a 19th-century building, but in the garden to the south are the remains of cellars and a portion of the wall of the earlier house, and a timber-framed barn with square panelling and brick infilling which belonged to it. (fn. 9)
The Birmingham-Stratford canal runs through the parish, following approximately the course of the brook. This section, from Lapworth to Stratford, was opened in 1816 (fn. 10) and there was a coal wharf here until about sixty years ago. (fn. 11) To-day, however, the canal is disused.
An agreement for inclosing 156 acres in the common fields was made in 1742 between eight proprietors, of whom the Rev. John Mills and Lord Carington were the most important. (fn. 12) It is clear from the award that considerable inclosure had already taken place. The land then inclosed lay in four open fields named Stony, Jennings, Windmill, and Busty Fields. The first two were on the east side of the parish, respectively north and south of the road to Warwick. Windmill Field was divided from Stony Field by Rushwood Lane, and Busty Field was in the south-west of the main part of the parish. (fn. 13) There are contemporary references to at least three other open fields, known as Over and Nether Ashburrow (fn. 14) and Goldy Croft (fn. 15) —the latter apparently north of the church. The village waste was in the north of the parish, round what is now Preston Fields, (fn. 16) and perhaps also on the west at Preston Green. Stony Field and Goldy Croft Field seem to have contained both furze and arable, and the former also included some of the meadowland by the brook.
At the time of the Domesday Survey, and earlier, Preston consisted of 10 hides. Five of these were held by Turbern in the time of King Edward; (fn. 17) the other five Britnod held. (fn. 18) All 10 hides were held by Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan, in 1086, (fn. 19) but Hugh held of the count Britnod's 5 hides, (fn. 20) which subsequently formed the manor of Beaudesert (fn. 21) (q.v.). Turbern's portion is said to have passed from the count to his younger brother Henry, afterwards Earl of Warwick. (fn. 22) The overlordship descended with the earldom of Warwick at least until 1315–16. (fn. 23)
Meanwhile, it is supposed that this land was given to Ingeram Bagot by William de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick, possibly about 1170, and from this family derived its name of Preston Bagot. (fn. 24) In 1220–1 Hugh Bagot was disseised by Henry, Earl of Warwick, of common pasture in Claverdon belonging to his free tenement in Preston because he ploughed up part of the common pasture. (fn. 25) Some time after 1231 Simon Bagot gave to the monks of Bordesley a curtilage (curtem) with a croft and alder-grove in Preston. (fn. 26) In June 1236 he demised some 2 virgates of land and meadow in Preston to Simon de Stokes at a yearly rent of 20d. (fn. 27) In the same year Simon Bagot's holding in Preston in conjunction with Henry le Notte's in Kington (in Claverdon) was assessed as one knight's fee. (fn. 28) Simon Bagot was apparently dead by 1242–3, (fn. 29) at which date all the land in Preston had been disposed of to sub-tenants, among them Simon de Stokes, and what is here described as one knight's fee in Preston had passed to the Knights Hospitallers, who held it intermediately between the Earl of Warwick and the heirs of Simon Bagot. (fn. 30) This fee, in Preston and Kington, was held in 1315–16 by the master of the hospital of Grafton, (fn. 31) and the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem in England still held some lordship in Preston in 1497. (fn. 32)
Simon de Stokes was succeeded by a son Thomas, who demised to the Abbot of Bordesley for 40 years from May 1269 'a meadow called "Hidemedwe" and the moor lying between Chimbesbrug (fn. 33) and the lower mill of the Abbot of Reading in the territory of Preston'. (fn. 34) Other land in Preston was held (by William Harewell in 1501, (fn. 35) and by Benet Medleye in 1503) (fn. 36) of Sir John Aston, lord of Beaudesert.
After the Dissolution, PRESTON BAGOT, here for the first time called a manor, was sold in 1553 to Edward Aglionby of Balsall and Henry Higforde of Solihull, along with other manors and lordships formerly held by the Knight's Hospitallers. (fn. 37) They sold it to Clement Throckmorton of Haseley (fn. 38) (q.v.), who in February 1556 settled the manor on himself with reversion to his son Job. (fn. 39) In 1570 Clement and his wife Katherine conveyed the manor to Richard Gryffin, (fn. 40) probably by way of mortgage, since on Clement's death in December 1573 the manor passed to Job, (fn. 41) the Puritan controversialist, (fn. 42) who, with Richard Gryffin, in 1583 conveyed it to Thomas Throckmorton and Thomas Colwell. (fn. 43) In 1593, however, Richard Gryffin made a conveyance of Preston Bagot to George Venables and Thomas Slye, (fn. 44) and in 1600 John Ryland and Joan his wife conveyed it to John Camden and others. (fn. 45) Job Williams was lord of the manor in 1605, (fn. 46) and in 1672 Oliver Williams (his grandson?) conveyed it to Mary Clayton alias Freeman, widow, of Edgbaston. (fn. 47) Six years later she settled the manor on her son Matthew, on his marriage with Katherine Potts of Ashmores, Staffs. (fn. 48) Matthew Freeman died in 1700 (fn. 49) and was probably succeeded by a son Robert, who married Mary daughter of Simon Kempson of Henley-in-Arden. Mary, then a widow, was holding the manor in 1729, (fn. 50) but five years later it had passed to John Kempson, her brother and heir. (fn. 51) The latter, by his will proved 8 November 1738, directed all his Warwickshire estates to be sold and the proceeds to be divided between his two youngest daughters Mary and Frances, with remainder to his daughter Margaret wife of Thomas Ferrers of Baddesley Clinton. (fn. 52) In 1740 the trustees sold the manor of Preston Bagot and lands in Henley, Wootton Wawen, Whitley, and Beaudesert for £6,864 to the Rev. John Mills, rector of Barford. (fn. 53) In 1749 Thomas Ferrers and his wife, Hugford Hassall of Solihull and Margaret his wife, and Frances Kempson of Solihull, with the consent of John Mills, conveyed the manor to Francis Holyoake, apothecary, of Henleyin-Arden. (fn. 54) This was perhaps to ensure the payment of Frances's legacy, since John Mills, a fortnight later, settled the manor on Sarah his wife. (fn. 55) He was still holding it in 1785 (fn. 56) and his eldest son William appears as lord between 1791 and 1819. (fn. 57) The manor remained in the family until 1900, when the Rev. Cecil Mills sold it to Francis Mitchell of Edgbaston, from whom it passed in 1917 to the present owner, Mr. F. W. P. Ryland, of Preston Bagot House. (fn. 58)
In 1822 the manor, then in the possession of John Mills, comprised only about 180 acres—roughly a seventh of the modern acreage of the parish; and of this some 41 acres are described as newly purchased. (fn. 59) The largest landowner was Sir Edward Smythe, bart., of Wootton Wawen, and he, his mother Catherine Maria Smythe, (fn. 60) and his son Sir Charles Frederick Smythe are sometimes given as lords and lady of the manor in gamekeepers' deputations between 1820 and 1859.
Peter de Montfort, lord of Beaudesert, had rent from Haselholt at the time of his death in 1265. (fn. 61) His son, another Peter, in 1284–5 claimed the right of free warren in his lands in Preston by grant of Henry III. (fn. 62) In 1286 he entailed the manor of HESELHOLT on his son John and his heirs by Alice daughter of William de la Plaunche. (fn. 63) The manor was held as ½ knight's fee of Roger Mowbray at his death in 1297, (fn. 64) and John de Mowbray in 1361. (fn. 65) There is no further trace of the overlordship, but Haselholt appears to have descended in the family of Montfort, (fn. 66) along with Beaudesert (q.v.). It is now represented by Hazelwood Farm.
Lords Field and Reeves Ground (fn. 67) in Preston Bagot and Wootton Wawen, which had formerly been in the tenure of Richard Edwards, were leased in 1526 to Sir Edward Willoughby by the king for 21 years. (fn. 68) In 1544 these lands were granted in fee to Sir William Barantyne, Kenelm Throckmorton, and Henry Avetson, (fn. 69) who in the following year were permitted to alienate them to Clement Throckmorton. (fn. 70) In 1822 Hither, Middle, and Further Reeves Ground are said to have been recently purchased by the lord of Preston manor. (fn. 71)
Other lands in Preston Bagot at one time belonged to the gild of St. Mary in Warwick. These passed into the hands of Nicholas Edwardes and were subsequently sold in 1549 by the Crown to John Nethermille of Coventry and John Milwade of Ansley. (fn. 72) These included a field or plot of land called 'Mathewse Haselholte alias Mawde Haselor' (fn. 73) which by 1672 formed part of the manor. (fn. 74)
Simon Bagot, probably about 1200, gave to the abbey of Reading a plot of land beside the road to Beaudesert, extending to the bridge of Esseford. (fn. 75) He also gave two mills, (fn. 76) with the multure of his household and his men of Preston, with right of way and a strip of land, 7 ft. wide, along one bank of the stream for repairing the mill pond; (fn. 77) and Thomas Bagot subsequently gave them another strip for the same purpose. (fn. 78) Thomas de Kington, brother of Henry le Notte the elder, gave the monks his lands which he held 'of the fee of Burle' in Preston (fn. 79) —presumably lands held by the family of Burle (i.e. Bearley), of whom William de Burle granted lands which he held of Simon Bagot at Coddesturne in Preston. (fn. 80) By 1291 Reading Abbey had at Preston rents worth 20s., 1 carucate of land worth 10s., and the two watermills, worth 10s., (fn. 81) which property at the time of the Dissolution formed part of the manor of Rowington. (fn. 82)
Job Throckmorton held his water mills called Preston Mills at the time of his death in 1601. (fn. 83) Richard Williams in 1603 left the watermill and Floodgate Meadow and a windmill to his son Job. (fn. 84) The mill, with the meadow adjoining, called Millham or Kettles (fn. 85) and the right of way through Floodgate Meadow to repair the mill, was excluded from the grant of the manor by Oliver Williams to Mary Clayton in 1672: (fn. 86) but it once more belonged to the manor by 1729 (fn. 87) and has since descended with it. The mill-house, probably on the site of the lower mill, is still standing, just north of the bridge. (fn. 88) There are remains of the mill pool of the upper mill a few hundred yards upstream.
The parish church of ALL SAINTS is situated on a high spur that has steep declivities on all sides except the north. It is a long rectangular structure divided by a modern chancel arch and has a modern north vestry and south porch.
The nave dates from the 12th century and has north windows and north and south doorways of about the middle of the century. The chancel is probably an addition of the early 13th century and it is doubtful if there was any masonry between chancel and nave before the modern chancel arch. The original division between the two was farther west (according to an early-19th-century description of the church the chancel was lower than the nave and was divided from it by a rood screen, of which the base still remained). (fn. 89) At some period, perhaps in the 15th century, the nave was lengthened to the west some 10 or 12 ft., probably for a bell-cote or turret. The church was altered and restored in 1879. The chancel was lengthened to the east about 5 ft., the cross-wall with the chancel arch inserted, and the south wall of the nave appears to have been mostly rebuilt, old windows, &c., being re-set.
The chancel (about 22½ ft. × 18 ft.) has a pair of trefoiled lancets in the modern east wall, set high up. In the north wall is a 13th-century trefoiled lancet of red sandstone with rebated and chamfered jambs and head, and with restored wide internal splays and rear-arch. In the south wall is a window of two trefoiled round-headed lights with sunk spandrels in a square head, probably of the late 14th century. A priests' doorway farther west has chamfered jambs and segmental-pointed head, partly of grey stone and partly red sandstone, and is probably of the same date as the 13th-century lancets: on a red stone is a scratched sundial. The chancel arch, in the 12th-century style, and the roof are modern.
The nave (49¾ ft. × 18 ft.) has four north windows: the easternmost is similar to that in the chancel, in which it was probably included; it has old rubble internal splays with angle dressings. The second and third windows are small round-headed lights of the 12th century with splayed reveals and rear-arches with angle dressings and voussoirs: the sills inside are modern. The fourth, near the west end, is similar but nearly all modern; it was probably reset here from elsewhere. The north doorway, between the third and fourth windows, is also of the 12th century, partly restored; it has jambs and round head with a small chamfer, plain double-chamfered imposts, and double-chamfered hood-mould. Just west of it, short vertical straight joints at the foot of the wall, with some long stones, probably indicate the original position of the west wall. East of the 13th-century window, against the chancel arch, is a doorway, with skewed reveals, into the vestry. The south wall also has four windows. The easternmost is of the 13th century like those opposite and in the chancel; the second is a 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights, unpierced above, with a moulded segmental-pointed rear-arch; the third is modern and of two lights. The fourth is like the 12th-century windows, but only the jambs are old. The south doorway, opposite the other, is wider and of the same date: it has similar jambs and head, but the imposts and hood-mould are single-chamfered. East of the 13thcentury lancet is a small blocked round-headed window, perhaps an 18th-century pulpit-window reset. In the west wall is a modern trefoiled lancet. At the restoration of 1879 traces of painting were discovered on the nave walls, including a trefoil pattern in dull red and remains of figures too indistinct to be identified. (fn. 90) The lower part of the north wall and the south wall of the chancel are of old rubble masonry partly (in the north wall) with thin cement facing. West of the north doorway are larger square stones and there are a few rough dressings at the north and south angles. The south wall of the nave, of coursed squared rubble, has probably been rebuilt. Between chancel and nave is a modern buttress. The west wall is of old small rubble up to the gable-head, which, with the tops of the other walls, is modern. Both chancel and nave roofs are modern, and above the west end is a modern square timber bellturret with a shingled octagonal spirelet. (fn. 91)
A brass plate in the chancel to Elizabeth wife of William Randoll, law counsellor, and daughter of Richard Knightley of Burghley, Staffs., died 12 December 1637, has the remains of her standing figure; the head and upper part of the bust are missing. There is a stone tablet to John infant son of the Reverend Benjamin Lovell, 'parson and pastor of this church', buried 19 September 1639.
The communion plate includes an Elizabethan cup of small size with a finger stem: it has no hall mark. A cover paten is inscribed: 'id td tb Preston Baggett 1571'. (fn. 92)
In 1232 Simon Bagot granted the advowson of the church to Paulin Peyure, to hold of Simon and his heirs by a yearly rent of 6d. (fn. 95) In 1263 Brother Robert de Maneby, prior of the Hospitallers in England, sold it to John Peyuere. (fn. 96) By 1274 the advowson had passed to Peter de Montfort, lord of Beaudesert, who presented in that year, (fn. 97) and it continued to descend with Beaudesert (q.v.) (fn. 98) until at least 1629, when Sir Francis Smith died seised of the advowsons of the two churches, (fn. 99) his heir being his son Sir Charles Smith, on whom he had settled the advowson in 1620 on his marriage with Elizabeth daughter of Sir John Caryll, of South Harting, co. Sussex. (fn. 100) Sir Charles Smith was created Lord Carington of Wotton in 1643 and died in 1665. (fn. 101) His son and heir Francis, Lord Carington, together with John and Charles Carington, presumably his brothers, conveyed the advowson in 1687 to William, Marquess of Powis, and William, Lord Montgomery, his son and heir, presumably for a settlement on the marriage of Francis and Anne daughter of the Marquess of Powis. (fn. 102) The advowson then appears to have descended in the Carrington or Smith family along with the manor of Wootton Wawen (q.v.), coming eventually to Peter Holford and his daughter Catherine Maria Holford, who were holding it in about 1778. (fn. 103)
Meanwhile, however, the Smiths, being Roman Catholics, seem to have disposed of the actual right of presenting to the church. It had been exercised in 1602 by Thomas Elesmore of Birmingham and by Thomas Spencer of Claverdon in 1607. (fn. 104) Spencer gave it to William Cooke of Snitterfield, (fn. 105) but on his death in 1630 his right in the advowson apparently descended to his son-in-law Sir Thomas Lucy, who allowed Cooke to present in 1636. (fn. 106) Sir Thomas's son Richard Lucy presented in 1677 (fn. 107) and Edward Welchman, rector of Lapworth, in 1714. (fn. 108) The latter died in 1739 and the advowson then probably passed to the Rev. William Welchman, rector of Preston Bagot 1731–44, who is described as patron on his tomb in the church. (fn. 109)
Thomas Fell of Brailsford, Derbyshire, and Thomas Lea of Henley-in-Arden held the patronage in 1800, (fn. 110) but by 1826 it had passed to Mrs. Elizabeth Cartwright (fn. 111) widow of the late rector. In 1831 she presented the Rev. T. J. Cartwright, (fn. 112) who was rector here until his death in 1867 and held the advowson at least from 1845. (fn. 113) The presentation of his successor was made by the guardians of Mary Elizabeth Cartwright, then a minor. (fn. 114) Mellor Hetherington of Edstone held the advowson between 1875 (fn. 115) and 1900. (fn. 116) The patrons in 1912 were Miss Cartwright and Mrs. Onslow (fn. 117) and by 1915 the Rev. Theodore John Cartwright and Mrs. Onslow, (fn. 118) from whom the advowson passed to the present owner, Mrs. F. W. P. Ryland, in 1932.
Peter de Montfort in 1326–7 gave 30 acres of land and a piece of meadow, also 5s. 6d., five strikes of Muncorn, and one strike of oats to be yearly paid by certain feoffees and their heirs for the foundation of a CHANTRY in the church of Preston Bagot. (fn. 119)
In 1547 John Greswold was paid 4d. yearly 'for fyndynge of a light cauled Kynge Henryes light' in the church. It was stated that the custom had then lapsed and that the original endowment had only been 2d. a year. (fn. 120)