A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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The village, with the church, vicarage, and Hall, lies somewhat north of the centre of the parish, 6 miles north-west of Warwick. From here roads run north to Rowington Green and north-west to Turner's Green, from which place a road runs south to Finwood and then west, across the Stratford-on-Avon Canal to the hamlet of Lowsonford. Here there is a chapel-of-ease, built in 1877, past which a road runs east and then south to High Cross and so to Holywell and Lye Green, on the borders of Claverdon. East of this is Pinley Green, where five roads meet; two (south and southwest) to Claverdon, one south-east to Pinley Priory, one north-west to High Cross, and one north-east by Shrewley to Birmingham. The Oxford and Birmingham branch of the Great Western Railway and the Warwick-Birmingham Canal run through the parish from south-east to north-west; and the Stratford-onAvon Canal also lies within the parish below Lowsonford, north of which the little stream flowing parallel with the canal forms the western boundary of Rowington.
The country is undulating, reaching a height of 420 ft. in the north at Rowington Green and in the extreme south at Lye Green. There is very little woodland and much of the land is pasture, though wheat, barley, and beans are grown. 'The village has always been an agricultural community with a sprinkling of weavers.' (fn. 1) Rowington was never under the influence of a resident lord, the manor being usually farmed out. The person to whom it was thus let was usually bailiff of the parish, an office of some importance before the dissolution of Reading Abbey, but less so after the reign of Elizabeth.
Scattered through the parish are some fifty houses and farm-buildings which retain structural features of the 17th century or earlier, and it is only possible to deal with the more interesting of these.
Oldfield Farm, on the east side of the main road from Hatton Station to the church, is an early-17thcentury house. The front is now brick-faced, but the gables at the back are timber-framed. Its central chimney-stack, with a complex shaft of attached octagonal shafts and V-shaped pilasters, has a wide fireplace and on the first floor a stone fire-place with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head. Some of the ceilings are open-timbered. Behind (east of) the house is a large square moat with high ground in the middle; only the east side contains water.
'High Chimneys', opposite, is a great square building of c. 1700 with walls of red and black bricks, divided, except on the west side, into three bays by shallow pilasters of rubbed brick and having a moulded eavescornice. The main entrance in the east front is of stone and has a segmental arch: above it is a bull's-eye window.
Mouseley End (fn. 2) is a Tudor farm-house of L-shaped plan, the arms extending to the south and east. The east side of the south arm has a slightly later porch with a jettied upper story carried on the ends of projecting joists and straight-sided triangular brackets. Each face has a gable-head with moulded barge-boards and spiral pendants. The square-headed entrance has a moulded frame. The lower story was of close-set studding, but only a few studs remain; the upper story has bays of herring-bone timbering; the east front has a modern projecting window, and the side windows are blocked. The inner entrance has a similar moulded frame and an old battened door hung with strap-hinges with fleur-delis ends. The south main arm retains a little of its original rectangular framing, chiefly in the upper story with a curved brace, also in the gable-head of the south end. The north end, also gabled, has a braced tiebeam and rectangular framing to both stories. The other arm has been mainly rebuilt with brick but shows on its north side two 9-ft. bays of original framing, the lower story with close-set studding, the upper rectangular. A central chimney-stack to the main block has two diagonal shafts of thin bricks and a wide fire-place with an oak lintel. Another wide fire-place is in the west side of the south room. The lower rooms have open-timbered ceilings with chamfered main beams.
Green Farm, at Rowington Green, is an early17th-century house facing south and has two gabled wings at the back which retain a little of the original timber-framing, but the main block has mostly been refaced with brick. The front entrance has an original door with four moulded panels and ornamental straphinges. The central chimney-stack (9 ft. thick) has a wide fire-place, and above the roof a great square shaft with panelled faces. The lower ceilings, mostly opentimbered, have chamfered beams with moulded stops. It has a stone cellar. A barn and other buildings are of 17th-century framing.
Shakespeare Hall (fn. 3) has developed round an early16th-century structure of close-set framing with a middle hall of one story flanked by small two-storied gabled wings projecting from the north front. The western is a porch with a square-headed entrance and with moulded bressummers at the first-floor level. In the upper story is a projecting 17th-century window of four lights with a transom. The inner entrance has a segmental-arched lintel and has a 16th-century nailstudded door hung with ornamental strap-hinges and having an ancient ring-handle ornamented with a pair of serpents with intercoiled tails. The middle block has a window of four lights and a transom, with projecting frames, in each of the two stories, the upper forming a gabled dormer and dated 1682.
Late in the 16th century gabled cross-wings of square framing were added east and west of the earlier house, projecting at the back to form a half-H plan. About the same period the central chimney-stack was built between the original hall and porch-wing, and the upper floor was inserted in the hall. The stack has a wide fire-place on the ground floor, and on the first floor is a moulded stone fire-place with a Tudor head. The ceiling of the ground floor is open-timbered; the partitions between the (former) hall and the two original wings have been removed for an elaborately carved staircase dated 1605, brought from the former Morley Hall, Solihull. The later west wing also has a wide fire-place (reduced) and an open-timbered ceiling with chamfered beam. The later east wing has a moulded arched stone fire-place and is lined with late-16th-century panelling. In modern times the house has been again enlarged by filling in between the wings on the south front and by a further east wing. There was formerly a moat around the building. An avenue of various trees leads up to the house from the road north of it.
Between Quarry Farm and Shakspeare Hall are the remains of the 'Bouncing Bess' windmill. It is circular in plan, diminishing upwards, built of red brick, and has a wood cap. The sails have disappeared.
Lapworth Manor House, once called Kingswood Manor House, lies in the north-west corner of the parish. Henry Ferrers, who purchased Kingswood Manor in 1596, probably rebuilt the house, but the moulded ceiling-beams in the north angle room of the ground floor are of early- rather than late-16th-century date: they divide the ceiling into twelve compartments and have masons' joints where they intersect. Other beams are chamfered. The house is built of square framing, with a pair of gables in the front: the foundations and infilling are of brick. Between the two front rooms is a great square chimney-stack with wide fireplaces of stone, and there is another such fire-place in the east room.
Windmill Farm is a 19th-century brick building, but has a late-16th-century timber-framed outbuilding. The porch of the house has some reset late-17th-century panelling (probably pews) from the church. In front of it is a mound marking the site of the former 'Grinning Jenny' windmill.
Ivy House, on the verge of Turner's Green, now several tenements, is an interesting early-16th-century building which appears to have been part of a larger important house. The plan of the original part is T-shaped, with a narrower extension at the east end of the T. The stem of the T, extending southwards, probably had another cross-wing to make the original plan H-shaped. In 1689 (the date with the initials A.T. (fn. 4) on a fire-place) a north wing was added in line with the stem of the T. The oldest part is of close-set studding to both stories, the lower mostly replaced with brick. The west gable-head of the cross-wing projects on timbered coving and has herring-bone framing; a projecting window below it, also on timbered coving, is mostly blocked up. The doorway on the ground floor has late-17th-century fielded panels. On the north side of the wing is a large projecting chimney-stack of stone with square brick shafts. It has a wide fire-place of stone. Some original wide flat ceiling joists are exposed inside, and a wide-chamfered beam with broach stops. A Tudor doorway formerly opened into the main block. There is also an open-timbered ceiling with wide joists in the east wing. A staircase from the cellar, below the 1689 wing, has some 16th-century silhouette balusters. The south end of the stem is of modern red brick. The farm-house south-west of Ivy House is of 18th-19th-century brick but appears to have been a late-16th-century timber building. It is of T-shaped plan and has at the junction of the two parts a great chimney-stack with a wide fireplace of stone with a segmental arch, and a brick shaft that has a number of V-shaped pilasters. A barn is partly of 17th-century timber framing.
At Finwood, ½ mile farther south, are several ancient buildings. Finwood Farm is a late-16th-century house of L-shaped plan and of two stories and attics. The walls are timber-framed but the only exposed timber work is in the gabled east end, which has square framing below and close-set studding above. A great central chimney-stack has wide fire-places of stone, back to back, with oak lintels and a brick shaft of diagonal cross-shaped plan. A later (17th-century) chimneystack south of it has two diagonal square shafts. The lower rooms have heavy chamfered ceiling-beams and joists.
Finwood Hill, about 250 yards to the south, is an L-shaped building of about 1550. The walls are (or were) of timber-framing, but it is exposed only in the north-east elevation. The north-west wing has wide flat joists to the lower ceiling and one moulded beam (perhaps reused) with masons' joints for two former cross-beams. The upper story has a middle truss with a cambered tie-beam on curved braces, and queenposts, and the roof has curved wind-braces to the purlins. The south-east wing has been more altered, and probably extended, in the 17th century, but retains a great chimney-stack with a large moulded stone Tudor fire-place to the lower story and a smaller one to the upper. Above the roof are two diagonal square shafts of thin bricks. The middle lower room has an opentimbered ceiling with a heavy beam and small joists.
South of Lowsonford is Poundley Farm, which has a wide fire-place with oak bressummer inscribed NR MAY 4 1672 F S M. North Rookery, an L-shaped building with 16th- and 17th-century framing, has in its brick gable a panel inscribed NR 1695; and South Rookery, a house of similar type, bears the date 1680. Middle Rookery retains most of its square timberframing of c. 1600 and has stop-chamfered ceilingbeams and a central chimney-stack.
Near High Cross, Brook Furlong Farm, Pitts Farm, and Gate Farm are timber-framed houses of c. 1600 with open-timbered ceilings and wide fire-places. Pitts Farm has an old nail-studded front door and another fine door in an internal partition. All three have contemporary barns.
The remains of the Cistercian Priory of Pinley, founded in the reign of Henry I, (fn. 5) consist only of portions of the church, which seems to have been rebuilt late in the 15th century, and a house now called Pinley Abbey. The house faces south and adjoined the northwest corner of the church. Its main block is a rectangle containing three rooms, probably part of the priory buildings of c. 1500. Three stone chimney-stacks, two on the north and one on the east, are later 16th-century additions. In the same century two gabled wings were thrown out on the north side, the western being certainly later than the chimney-stack, which it overlaps; also two porch wings, one on the south front and one on the east. The space between the two north wings has since been filled in with a low lean-to addition in brick. The main walls of the house are of close-set studding, now incomplete except in the west gabled wall. This wall was carried north to form a closet flanking the west side of the projecting chimney-stack, lighted by a tiny north window of two lights with a moulded mullion, now blocked. None of the original framing of the north wall is visible externally, but inside, covered by the eastern wing, is a blocked window outlined, showing that the wing is later. The wing, 14½ ft. wide, coinciding with the eastern main room (present kitchen) is gabled and was of similar construction on stone foundations. The other wing, 9¼ ft. wide, behind the west main room, contains the staircase; it partly covers the projecting chimney-stack and therefore must be later. The two projecting chimney-stacks, one to the middle hall and the other to the west chamber, are of stone and have each two diagonal square shafts of thin bricks. The hall fireplace is wide and has chamfered stone jambs and oak lintel; the wide western fire-place has moulded stone jambs and lintel. The porch-wing, 6½ ft. wide, on the south front is of less close studding than the rest, on stone foundations, and has a gabled upper story projecting on all three faces on the ends of joists: the entrances are square-headed and open into the east end of the hall. East of and flush with it is a built-out addition to the kitchen of 18th- or 19th-century brick with a pent roof. At the east end is a similar projecting chimney stack, to the kitchen, with a piercing in the south wall of its fire-place. The outer face of this chimney-stack sets back 15 in. from the original face of the earlier wall, of which 1 ft. is left, at right angles to the wall of the church, and has a plinth of two chamfered courses flush with the earlier face. Adjoining the north side of the chimney is another porch-wing, 6 ft. 10 in. wide, with a jettied upper story projecting 1 ft. on three faces. The lower story is now of red brick except on the north side, which is enclosed by a brick addition containing a staircase: here is seen the original moulded bressummer of the overhang, carried on joists which have moulded ends. In the upper story of this wall is a blocked window. All the windows in use have modern frames.
The internal partitions are of close studding. In each of the two partitions between the middle hall and the end rooms is a small ancient peep-hole, and in the eastern is an original doorway with chamfered posts and four-centred head, now blocked. The upper partitions have braced tie-beams and queen-posts, and the roof above the hall has four-centred arched windbraces. The ceilings are plastered. The main staircase in the north-west wing is plain and probably of later rearrangement. A closed-in and unused staircase from the first floor to the roof space against the west wall of the wing has a plain door hung with 16th-century cocks'-head hinges.
The remains of the church adjoin the south-east angle of the house and form an L-shaped plan. The main body is about 64 ft. long by 19½ ft. wide. About 15 ft. at the east end, in line with a south chapel or transept, is closed off by a later stone wall for a stable. This probably represents only part of the former chancel, as the existing east wall, 1 ft. 10 in. thick, appears to be a later construction of reused masonry; it contains a blocked doorway and window to the stable of the 17th or 18th century. There is a 4-in. set-back inside, about 3½ ft. above the floor. It is possible that the bottom of the wall is original. The nave has lost its south wall entirely and is mostly unroofed. It appears to have been used as a cart-shed. In the middle of the north wall was an 11-ft. cart-way now filled in, and a 10½-ft. length of rebuilt stone wall and doorway west of it. The remainder of the wall, including that of the stable, is ancient and of good ashlar, 2½ ft. thick; but the 19-ft. length up to the stable breaks forward 5 in. and may be earlier than the rest. Most of it has a double-chamfered string-course outside, and above that a chamfered set-back of 5 in. to the later face; on this is the sill of a former three-light window. The lowest stones of its splays remain inside, and 2 ft. below the window-ledge is another string-course, chamfered on its lower edge. In the stable the wall has a 12-ft. wide recess, 10 in. deep, with an ashlar west splay down to the floor. The filling wall is 20 in. thick and has a modern doorway at the east end with a deep east splay of brick. Whether this recess represents a former archway walled up, or a wide window recessed to the floor is not certain, but there appear to be slight traces of a blocked window higher up outside. The 5½ ft. at the west end of the nave wall is of original masonry and has both the string-course and set-back outside, and stringcourse inside. The last also returns on the west wall. A wall ran from the nave wall 4 ft. west of the modern doorway. Of this only 1 ft. length remains, the rest having been destroyed when the east chimney-stack of the house was built. The west wall, of ashlar, retains a blocked late-15th-century doorway, 5½ ft. wide, with moulded jambs and four-centred arch having a label with head-stops of a king and queen. Above it inside are the lowest courses of the splays of the former west window. The east end of the nave is roofed for a shed. The wall between it and the stable is a thick one of reused large stones. On the top of it, set upside down, is a 15th-century moulded and embattled beam, possibly the rood-beam.
The south chapel is 15 ft. from east to west, coinciding with the width of the stable, and 9 ft. deep. An 18-in. wall divides it from the stable. This wall has a doorway at the east end with good ashlar splays and an oak lintel, and at the west end a reset early-16th-century doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head of two stones; the spandrels are carved with rosettes and foliage. The south wall, of coursed ashlar, 18 in. thick, has a modern doorway. The east wall contains some reset stones with splayed or hollowchamfered edges, and inside is a small rectangular recess, 15 in. by 10 in. by 9 in. deep, and right across the wall about 1 ft. higher is a built-in joist. The west wall of coursed ashlar has a doorway filled in with ashlar. It meets the west wall of the stable with a straight joint.
North of the house and set, for no obvious reason, at an angle of about 55° to it, is a cottage, of which the timber-framing looks later than that of the house, but it has a similar central chimney-stack of stone.
There are considerable remains of a most enclosing a large area to the south, south-east, and east of the buildings. It dies out to the north of the east part and stops short at a farm road and ditch at the west end of the south part.
ROWINGTON, which was held in the time of Edward the Confessor by Baldwin, had passed in 1086 to Hugh de Grantemaisnil, of whom it was held by one Roger. (fn. 6) Hugh's daughter Adelize d'lvry (widow of Roger d'lvry (fn. 7)) gave the vill of Rowington to the abbey of Reading (fn. 8) in or before 1133, in which year it was confirmed to the monks by Henry 1. (fn. 9) Later confirmations of the gift were made by Stephen, (fn. 10) Henry II, (fn. 11) Richard I, (fn. 12) and other kings, and the manor remained in the hands of the abbey until the Dissolution. Soon after the original gift the abbey seem to have put the estate in the charge of one of their number, as the monk Ingulf who was then keeper of the vill' arranged with Hugh son of Richard (of Hatton) for a perambulation of the bounds between Rowington and Shrewley and, with the consent of Hugh's wife Margaret and his son William, bought out his claims to part of the land and grove (nemoris) of Rowington in 1150. (fn. 13) A further grant of 69 acres of land and 8 acres of meadow in this parish was made in 1344 by Thomas de Ryvere and Richard Godemon, for the support of a chantry in Reading Abbey. (fn. 14)
At the suppression of Reading Abbey the Rowington property, which had been valued at £14 10s. in 1291, (fn. 15) was worth £73 10s. (fn. 16) The manorial rights were retained by the Crown and in 1541 were assigned to Queen Katherine (Parr) for life. (fn. 17) She died in 1548 and in March 1553 the manor was granted to John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, (fn. 18) on whose attainder it reverted to the Crown. Queen Elizabeth in 1564 granted it to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, (fn. 19) whose widow Anne held it (fn. 20) till her death in 1604, when the lordship came again to the Crown. It formed part of the jointure of Queen Henrietta Maria and, although temporarily alienated during the Commonwealth, was recovered by her at the Restoration (fn. 21) and held until her death in 1669. After this the manor was leased to a number of persons in succession, but, subject to these leases, remained the property of the Crown. (fn. 22) In 1674 Sir Charles Vyner, bart., (fn. 23) was lord of the manor and in 1689 Henry Parker. (fn. 24) In 1706 and 1730 it was held by John Sanders and in 1756 by William Grove. Sarah, Lady Archer, follows in 1781 and after her comes Wilson Aylesbury Roberts, jun. (1791), and William Smith of Rowington Hall (1805). (fn. 25) William Smith in 1806 purchased the manor from the Crown and since that date it appears to have been owned by Mary Smith his daughter (1821), Thomas Lea (1827), William Welch Lea (1838), John Patrick (1848), Edward Westwood (1859), George Bradley (1886), and Frederick Knight of Whately Hall, Castle Bromwich (1889), (fn. 26) from whom it has descended to Mrs. Knight Turner, the present lady of the manor.
Meanwhile, the site and lands of the manor, with the rectory and tithes, had been the subject of a number of leases. The first of these was made in Feb. 1540, for a term of 21 years, to John Oldnall. (fn. 27) He was Master of the Gild of St. Anne of Knowle and was bailiff of Rowington in 1547 and until his death in 1558. (fn. 28) His lease had been renewed in 1557, (fn. 29) but in Dec. 1562 a fresh lease of the premises was made to William Skinner and Alice his wife (Oldnall's daughter) and their son Anthony for their lives. (fn. 30) A further lease for 30 years, to date from the expiration of this, was acquired in 1597 by Thomas Audley, (fn. 31) who at once sold his rights to Anthony Skinner. Anthony in 1609 sold his rights under the two leases to Thomas Betham, (fn. 32) who in 1614 acquired the site of the manor and the other estates in fee simple from the Crown. (fn. 33) He died 23 June 1627, his heir being his son Walleston Betham; (fn. 34) Richard Betham and John (his son) were dealing with the rectory and lands in 1711, (fn. 35) and Katherine daughter of John Betham alias Fowler carried the estates in marriage to Sir Thomas Belasyse, afterwards Earl Fauconberg, in 1726. (fn. 36) He sold the rectory and Rowington Hall to William Ives, whose daughter Anne married William Shakespeare, (fn. 37) to whom Ives at his death in 1744 left the property in trust for his other daughters. William Shakespeare sold the property to Sir Simon le Blanc of London, in whose family it remained till it was sold to William Smith in 1804. Rowington Hall appears to have been used as a parsonage after Richard Betham removed to High House, William Ives having also apparently lived at the latter house. William Smith in 1806 sold the hall and farm to Samuel Aston of Wroxall, who added the stone front to the house. John son of Samuel Aston added to the estate and in 1896 descendants of the family were still living there.
PINLEY was probably originally part of Rowington, but by the time of Henry I it had come into the hands of Robert the Butler, with whose consent his tenant Robert de Pillerton founded there a priory for Cistercian nuns. (fn. 38) The patronage of the priory therefore descended in the family of Boteler of Oversley and as late as 1496 was held jointly by Sir John Norbury and Edward Belknappe, the representatives of that family. (fn. 39) According to the evidence of old inhabitants (including Margaret Wattnoll, aged 95) taken in 1599, (fn. 40) the site of the priory with its surrounding demesnes (forming a roughly rectangular block of about 200 acres) constituted a parish in itself, the residents in which attended the priory church, where 'they did marrye burye and Christen'. These demesnes were tithe-free, (fn. 41) but the copyholds of the manor, part of which, known as the Combseys, lay detached to the north-west of the 'parish', paid tithe to Rowington. Between the Combseys and the demesnes lay Pinley Green, of which the portion within the manor was inclosed in 1630, (fn. 42) and the remainder under the Rowington Inclosure Award of 1824. Already in 1599 there was much difference of opinion as to whether the whole of Pinley should be included in Rowington, but from the dissolution of the priory in 1536 the demesnes of Pinley apparently remained extra-parochial, (fn. 43) until in 1925 it was assigned for ecclesiastical purposes to the parish of Claverdon.
The manor of Pinley remained with the priory until its dissolution. The last prioress was Margaret Wigston, (fn. 44) and the steward of the manor about this time was Roger Wigston, (fn. 45) whose son John in March 1537 obtained a lease from the Crown of the site of the manor, demesne lands, &c., for 21 years. (fn. 46) This lease was surrendered when William Wigston, elder brother of the said John, purchased the manor and demesne lands in 1544. (fn. 47) He shortly afterwards granted one-half of 'Prioress Field' to the inhabitants of Claverdon for an augmentation of their common, (fn. 48) and in 1553 sold the fields called the Combseys and Pinley Rudding to Clement Throckmorton and Katherine his wife. (fn. 49) Sir William Wigston died 27 Sept. 1577, (fn. 50) and his son Roger was succeeded about 1610 by Susan, his youngest daughter, wife of Nicholas Wentworth, upon whom he had settled the manor. (fn. 51) Sir Peter Wentworth, son and heir of Susan Wentworth, in 1615 (fn. 52) sold the manor, &c. to Edward Cookes of Pinley, yeoman, and Susan his wife. Edward Cookes settled the property upon his son William upon the latter's marriage to Anne Faldoe in 1637, (fn. 53) but probably retained a life interest therein, for he was still lord of the manor in 1639. (fn. 54) He died in 1656, and his son William in 1659. (fn. 55) In 1668 another William Cookes, probably son of the last, mortgaged the property. (fn. 56) Henry Cookes, brother and heir of William, eventually sold the property to Aaron Rogers of Langley. (fn. 57) Aaron Rogers, who was afterwards mayor of Warwick, (fn. 58) in 1674 settled (fn. 59) the manor and part of the estate upon himself and his intended wife Bridget Brittaine. Aaron Rogers was succeeded in 1709 (fn. 60) by his son the Rev. John Rogers of Fenny Compton, who in 1700 (fn. 61) had married Mary Andrews of Bascote, co. Warws. He seems to have died about 1728, when Thomas Prew of Radford Semele and Bridget his wife, who was the only daughter of Bridget, daughter of Aaron Rogers, by Edward Willes of Leamington and therefore niece and heiress of the Rev. John Rogers, made an agreement with Mary Rogers, widow of the Rev. John Rogers. (fn. 62) Thomas Prew and his wife were still joint lord and lady of the manor in 1737, (fn. 63) but in 1753 Bridget Prew is described as a widow. She settled the manor on her eldest daughter Bridget for life with remainder to Matthew Wise of Leamington Priors, who was the son of Elizabeth, second daughter of Bridget Prew the elder, by John Wise of the Priory, Warwick. In 1756 (fn. 64) Bridget Prew the younger, who died unmarried, resettled her life interest upon her nephew Matthew Wise upon his marriage to Martha Dolphin of Birmingham, and he held manorial courts in 1772 and 1777. (fn. 65) Upon his death the Pinley estates were allotted (fn. 66) to his daughter Bridget, the wife of Thomas Cattell, under a settlement. (fn. 67) Bridget Cattell left her estates about 1837 to her nephews and nieces equally, i.e. Charles, John, Francis, Lucy, Charlotte, and Penelope Wise. In 1856 (fn. 68) Charlotte Wise purchased the shares of the others and by her will, dated 3 Jan. 1863, devised the manor to her brother John Wise, who in 1866 (fn. 69) sold it to Sir Josiah Mason. Sir Josiah Mason devised the manor of Pinley and the property therein to the trustees of a Charity in Birmingham named after him. These trustees in 1878 (fn. 70) added to the area of the estate by purchasing Spencers Meadow, containing over 8½ acres. In 1906 (fn. 71) the manor and estates, which then included the remains of the Priory buildings and 135 acres of land, were sold by the Trustees of Sir Josiah Mason's Charity to Edward Galton Wheler, who some years later took the name of Edward Galton WhelerGalton.
The parish church of ST. LAWRENCE is of more than average interest both for its architectural detail and the abnormal development of its plan. The earliest part of the present structure was a nave of unusual proportions, 46 ft. long by 29 ft. wide. The two plain traceried windows in the south wall belonged to it, as well as the blocked lancet in the west wall, and are probably of late-13th-century date; but the north wall may be the relic of a still earlier church. There is no evidence that this nave had any arcades within it to form side-aisles, but there was probably a small chancel, indicated approximately by the present ante-chancel. The first change appears to have been the addition of the central tower, built within the east end of the nave, leaving shallow transeptal chapels to north and south. This was done c. 1330 and was followed immediately by the addition of the chancel, east of the former chancel. There is a record of a chapel north of the chancel, but no traces of its walls remain. In the early 15th century the two arcades were inserted inside the nave, the south-west respond partly blocking the 13th-century lancet in the west wall, and the chancel arch was rebuilt and probably widened. The west doorway and window are also of the same century and the north half of the west wall was rebuilt at the same time.
In 1554 the north aisle-chapel was added; the earlier north chapel seems to have been entirely destroyed, but two windows reset in the north wall may have belonged to it. The west wall of the aisle was built west of the central tower, probably to allow direct access to the aisle from the north aisle of the nave, the north walls of the tower-transept and ante-chapel perhaps not being removed until later. Besides the abolition of the north walls mentioned, the archway which opened into the former chapel has been widened and fitted with a beamlintel in place of the head. The south porch is of 1906 and various restorations have been carried out during the present century.
The chancel (about 26 ft. by 16 ft.) has an east window of four trefoiled lights and tracery in a segmental-pointed head with an external hood-mould and a chamfered rear-arch of mid to late 14th century; the tracery is peculiar and suggests a normal two-light window of c. 1330 widened to four lights. On the north side is a 13½-ft. opening with jambs of two chamfered orders, the western modern; it is bridged by modern beams. In the south wall are two windows, the eastern of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights and plain piercings under a square head with a similar hood-mould; it is recessed inside below the sill for sedilia. The western is of two lights of similar design but much shorter and the east light is rebated for a 'low-side' shutter. Between the windows is a 16thcentury priests' doorway with chamfered jambs and depressed four-centred arch in a square head formed by the hood-mould: it has a flat lintel inside.
The chancel arch has jambs of two chamfered orders with square bases and 15th-century moulded capitals; the head is two-centred. It is probably a widening of the earlier archway and has re-used small voussoirs in the head, while the courses of the jambs are large.
The chancel walls are of local sandstone ashlar and have plinths with moulded upper members and chamfered lower. At the east angles are old diagonal buttresses and there is a south buttress. The gabled east wall has an ancient coping and gable-cross. The roof, probably early-16th-century, has an elliptical barrel vault of curved braces below collar-beams: it is divided into three bays by larger curved timbers, and three purlins run the other way: all the timbers are chamfered. The wall-plates are moulded and embattled. The roof is tiled.
The ante-chancel (about 5 ft. wider than the chancel and 11 ft. east to west) or former chancel, has a twolight south window like those to the chancel; the jambs are of two orders, the inner (with the mullion) moulded, the outer chamfered; they change in the head to two hollow-chamfers. The wall is of ashlar with a plinth similar to the chancel and an original east buttress. The north side opens to the north aisle under a plastered beam. East of it, north of the chancel-arch, is the roodstair turret, with splayed faces (five sides of an irregular octagon). In the south-west splay are the squareheaded doorways; above is an embattled cornice which does not look ancient; and there is a small loop-light in the north-west face. The roof, of the early 16th century, has a panelled four-centred barrel vault with moulded ribs, having bosses at the intersections, two with shields with modern paintings.
The central tower (about 13½ ft. square internally) has an archway in each of its four sides with a twocentred head of three chamfered orders; the east and west arches are of small voussoirs, the side arches have some larger voussoirs, probably of later repair. The responds are peculiar; they are of wavy plan, connected at the angles with each other without any sharp arrises. In the eastern arch the wave-mould finishes flush with the outer face of the east wall; probably the western arch was similarly treated before the later nave-arcades encroached partly on the responds. The innermost half-round curve in each reveal carries the inner order of the head. In the side arches it forms an 8-in. projection or shaft on the face of each reveal, the outer orders of the head dying on the same face. In the north archway the shafts have been cut away about 3 ft. below the capitals. The capitals are moulded and follow the contour of the responds; the bases are plain chamfers. The abutments of the east and west arches form the sides of a very shallow transept on the south. In the south wall of this, which is part of the wall of the south aisle, is a window of three pointed lights and intersecting tracery in a two-centred head, with a hood-mould like the others. The wall is of large-coursed ashlar and has a moulded plinth differing from that of the chancel. The bay is flanked by ancient buttresses, on the eastern side of which is scratched a sundial, and another buttress projects eastward against the ante-chancel. On the north side the wall of the transept and the abutment to the east arch have been removed. The west abutment contains a stair-vice for the tower, probably made in the 15th century; the original doorway into it, in the east face, is now blocked; the present entrance in the north face was probably cut in 1554. The shallow transepts have plastered lean-to roofs, but the earlier roofs were at a higher level.
The nave (about 33¼ ft. by 14 ft.) has early-15thcentury north and south arcades of two bays; the middle pillars are octagonal and the responds of two chamfered orders; they have slightly differing moulded capitals and hollow-chamfered bases. The arches are twocentred and of two chamfered orders with hood-moulds towards the nave, meeting over the pillars on humanhead stops, all in white stone. On some of the voussoirs are masons' marks, a plain cross.
The north aisle (6 ft. wide) has only one piercing, the north doorway, of two chamfered orders with a two-centred head. Outside, east of the doorway are remains of a stoup, and west of the doorway a shallow buttress of ashlar, projecting only 2 in. from the wallface. The rest of the wall is cemented, apparently on rubble, and has a chamfered plinth and exposed footings. The south aisle (about 4½ ft. wide) has a window at the east end of the south wall, of three lights like that of the transept; it is recessed to the floor inside. The south doorway resembles the northern except that the outer order of the head is wave-moulded.
The west wall has one great gable-head including both nave and aisles. The wall is of ashlar and has a moulded plinth, lower in the south half than in the north. The latter is of 15th-century rebuilding and has a diagonal buttress, with moulded offsets, at the northwest angle. The south half has a pair of square buttresses at the angle and is evidently much earlier, as it shows the outline of a blocked lancet window; this is partly covered inside by the west respond of the south arcade but shows the south splay of ashlar and half the reararch. The west doorway to the nave has moulded jambs and flattened four-centred arch, enriched with square floral paterae, and having a hood-mould. The west window is of five trefoiled ogee-headed lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head with an external hood-mould; the jambs are moulded and the mullions hollow-chamfered. Both are of rather late 15th-century insertion. At the head of the gable is a shallow niche with a foliage finial and a bracket for an image; below it is a defaced shield.
The nave roof has a plastered barrel-vaulted ceiling with chamfered cross-ribs of oak and three longitudinal ribs. The central boss is carved with four human faces (gilded); the other intersections have modern shields. The roof is continued down over the aisles, which have plastered soffits, except for some whitened principal rafters and a purlin, visible in the north aisle.
The central tower (about 13½ ft. square) is of two stages above the main roofs and is built of ashlar. The parapet is embattled and four of the merlons have shields carved on their faces; these bore Emblems of the Passion but only that on the west face is now carved, with the black-letter inscription inri. The lower stage has a square-headed window in the south wall and about a yard below it is a weather-course just above the present roof of the transept. There is a similar window in the east wall and the roof of the ante-chapel encroaches on it. The north side has no window, but about a yard below the string-course that marks the stages is another weather-course and three plain stone corbels, indicating probably the position of a former lean-to roof of the north transept, considerably higher than the present 16th-century roof. At the east end of this wall is a buttress of brick and stone having a projecting segment of the stair-vice with a stone capping. West of the south window is an 18thcentury sundial. The bell-chamber is lighted in each wall by a window of two pointed lights and plain spandrel in a two-centred head. In front of the western is a skeleton clock-dial.
The north aisle of 1554 is about 16 ft. wide at the east end and 60½ ft. long. The east and west windows and the middle north window are of the same date and each of three plain square-headed lights with labels. The other two north windows, the eastern of three and western of two lights, are older windows reset and resemble the south chancel windows. The walls are of grey-white local sandstone ashlar in large courses with moulded plinths, but the top course and plain parapets are of red sandstone. The west wall has a very low-pitched gable of red Kenilworth stone with a white stone panel with slight traces of a former inscription, probably the date. At the two angles are original diagonal buttresses and the north wall has two intermediate buttresses. The roof, nearly flat, is divided into seven bays by cross-beams and longitudinally into four by purlins; these and the common rafters are chamfered. An oak post against the tower stair-vice helps to support the roof.
The south porch is modern. In the north doorway is an ancient plain oak door hung with ornamental straphinges and having an old iron latch and ring-handle or scutcheon. The pair of doors in the west doorway are also possibly old and are secured by a draw-bar inside.
A stone pulpit of the 15th century stands against the south-east pier of the tower; the tub has three sides of a hexagon, each with two trefoiled ogee-headed panels and with moulded cornice or book-rest. At the angles are panelled buttresses. It stands on a hexagonal shaft with a moulded capital and plain base.
The communion-table in the chancel incorporates remains of late-16th-century carved bulbous legs and a top-rail carved with scroll ornament. The communion-rails were brought from Studley in 1906. They have turned balusters and were made by Edward Elvins, carpenter, in 1682. (fn. 72)
An oak screen of the 15th century separates the chancel from the north aisle. It has eleven lights, of which two form the doorway, fitted with a low gate. The lights have cinque-foiled ogee heads and tracery, moulded rails, and closed panels below.
In the south transept is a chest, 5 ft. 1 in. by 1 ft. 6 in. by 1 ft. 4 in. high, of oak boards bound by iron bands at the sides, and with a 2 in. lid hung with three straphinges having staples attached for three locks. The edges of the boards are engrailed. It is probably of the 16th century. (fn. 73) Another, 2 ft. 11 in. by 1 ft. 4 in. by 1 ft. 5 in. high, has three strap-hinges with fleur-delis ends, and straps for three staples and locks: the edge of the lid is moulded. (fn. 74) On the front is inscribed I B (John Betham); 17th century. Another in the north aisle, 3 ft. 3 in. by 1 ft. 10 in. by 2 ft. 5 in., is of the 17th century and has a panelled and incised front, fluted top rail and panelled lid; it has one lock. Also in the aisle is a chest-cupboard, 4 ft. 2 in. by 1 ft. 11 in. by 2 ft. 6 in. on turned feet and with scroll carving on the top rail; the panelled front has a small door in the middle; probably 17th century. A Bible box is of the same period; also a poor-box carved in the top of a solid post and fitted with an iron lid.
On the north wall of the 16th-century aisle is a scrap of early-17th-century panelling, parts of pews reset, (fn. 75) six panels in width and three tiers in height. In the top tier are three shields of arms of the family of Knight and their alliances, the western carved and the other two with painted charges. This wall and the west wall of the aisle, also the nave-aisles, have a high dado with fielded panels of the 18th century, made up from former pews. A high reading-desk, 6 ft. 7 in. long, of the 17th century, stands in the north nave-aisle; it has standards with simply shaped heads.
There are a few fragments of 14th- or 15th-century glass in the south-west window of the chancel, pieces of ruby, white with brown line ornament, mostly foliage and some black-letter. The east window of the north chapel also has some ancient glass but it is boarded up inside, behind the organ.
There are five bells, (fn. 76) restored in 1887. One was recast then; the other four are from the Leicester foundry of Newcombe & Watts, dated 1609, 1620, and two of 1633.
The communion plate (fn. 77) includes a cup and cover paten of 1676 and an early 18th-century salver paten.
The church of Rowington was given with the manor to Reading Abbey, to which it was appropriated at an early date. In 1291 the rectory was worth £13 6s. 8d. and the vicarage £5 6s. 8d., (fn. 78) but by 1535 the value of the vicarage had risen to £7. 11s. 7d. (fn. 79) The advowson was granted with the manor to the Duke of Northumberland in 1553 and to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, in 1564. On the death of the Countess Anne in 1604 it reverted to the Crown, with whom it remained until 1866, when it was granted to the Bishop of Worcester. Since 1918 it has been in the hands of the Bishop of Coventry. (fn. 80)
In 1348 the nuns of Pinley, who had built a windmill within the tithable of Reading, agreed to pay a yearly render of corn, proportionate to the amount of their multure, to Reading Abbey. (fn. 81)
The Combined Charities: John Hill by will dated 23 Sept. 1502 gave to the churchwardens 51s. 4d. yearly out of his lands in Rowington and elsewhere to be applied to the distribution of alms to the poor, the performance of certain obits and dirges, the repair of the Church House, and the repair of the highways.
John Oldnall by will and codicil dated 13 May and 13 June 1556 gave certain lands in Rowington and elsewhere to provide certain small payments for the benefit of the poor, for the repair of the highways, and for the parish clerk.
Thomas Hunt by deed poll dated 24 April 1579 granted to trustees an annuity of 6s. 8d. from land in Rowington, to be distributed by the churchwardens amongst the poor. The annuity is now charged on land known as Sugar's Close in Old Stratford.
Richard Hodgkins by will dated 30 July 1638 gave £30 which was laid out (in 1665) in land in Bushbury, one-half of the rents of which were for the repair of the parish church and Church House and the other half for the poor of the parish.
The above-mentioned charities are regulated by a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 16 Feb. 1906 under the title of the Combined Charities. The Scheme appoints trustees to administer the charities and directs that one-quarter of the net income shall constitute the endowment of the Church Branch and onehalf of the net income the endowment of the Poor's Branch, the residue being the endowment of the Educational Foundation. The Scheme directs the income of the Church Branch to be applied in the maintenance of the fabric and of the services of the church, and the income of the Poor's Branch to be applied for the poor generally in accordance with a further Scheme of the said Commissioners dated 14 May 1917. The income of the charities amounts to about £550 per annum.