A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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Aston Cantlow is an extensive parish, about 5½ miles from north-west to south-east, stretching across the valley of the Alne. The main village, consisting of a single street, lies on the east bank of the stream; and behind the hamlet of Little Alne on the opposite bank, about ¼ mile north-west, the Alne Hills rise to rather over 400 ft. round the scattered hamlet of Shelfield. The valley is bounded on the east and south by a line of low hills, partly wooded, which divide it from the Avon. On this ridge are two more hamlets—Newnham and, about a mile to the south of it, Wilmcote, which has been a separate ecclesiastical parish since 1863. The eastern extremity of the parish touches Bearley and Snitterfield and includes the hamlet of Pathlow on the Birmingham-Stratford road.
The Alne flows through the middle of the parish and is sometimes known locally as the Rea. (fn. 1) North of Little Alne bridge the Silesbourne Brook joins it from the east. Traces of the original ford can be seen on the north side of the modern bridge, but lands allotted to the repair of the bridge are mentioned in the Inclosure Award of 1743. North of the bridge, on the bridleroad leading to Grey Mills, is a ford of unusual length and depth, and Sydenham ford (fn. 2) lies about 1½ miles to the south. Between the latter and the bridge, and respectively north and south of the main village, are two footbridges, presumably the Reynolds bridge and Long bridge of the Inclosure Award. The former was then stated to be repairable by the inhabitants of Shelfield.
The main village of Aston Cantlow lies north and south along the Wootten Wawen-Billesley road which here broadens into a small green, with the Gild-house on the east and the King's Head Inn opposite. Behind, on the west, stands the church, which is approached by a short lane leading down to the Alne. The Gildhouse is traditionally believed to have been the hall of the gild that was in existence here in the time of Henry VI (see below). It is first so called in a lease of 1713 (on surrender of one dated 1661). Then and as late as 1770 the upper chamber was reserved for manor courts. (fn. 3)
The building preserves externally much of its original appearance. It is now divided into several tenements, for which doors and windows have been inserted and alterations made internally. The west front is about 48 ft. long, and has a jettied upper story. The lower story appears to have been of four main bays of about 12 ft., each divided into lesser bays of 7½ and 4½ ft. The main posts marking the bays have square pilasters and curved brackets under the overhang. The framing is mostly of close-set studding, altered largely in the lower story for the later doors and windows. The north end of the front has a curved strut against the angle-post. The gabled north end, of similar studding, has curved struts on the lower story against the angle-posts. In the upper story is a blocked window and in the gable-head a glazed window. Against the south end is a lower building, but the gable-head above shows some framing. The east side also has close framing to the upper story, and there is a little left on the lower near the south end.
Some nine other buildings in the village show traces of 17th-century or earlier origin. The Manor Farm east of the church, of H-shaped plan, has been encased with brick but has 17th-century open-timbered ceilings, a wide fire-place with chimney corner-seats, &c., inside. Two of the farm-buildings are of timber-framing and brick. Three cottages, one of them thatched, on the north side of the lane down to the river also show similar framing. The King's Head Inn and four other small buildings farther north all have remains of framing. A part of one of these which appears to have been a smithy may be of the 16th century. Another house is of early-18th-century bricks, and has a hooded entrance doorway.
In a field called Stocking Banks between the river and the village street are the earthwork remains of the castle of the Cantilupes. It passed from them to the family of Hastings and is described in an extent of the manor in 1274, (fn. 4) but by 1392 the castle and the barns and granges belonging to it were in ruins and worth nothing. (fn. 5) The earthworks lie close to the river and are roughly circular in shape, surrounded by a single ditch. There are also remains of ditches at the south end of the field towards the church. George Lewing, about 1850, notes that 'the ground shows a causeway leading up to the church; the remains of stone work, apparently that of the Draw-bridge, still exist and some years back oaken wood was excavated from the moat. . . . roads to and from the said Earthworks, north, north-east, and south, may be traced (especially in a very dry season)'. (fn. 6) A partial excavation in 1935 revealed, very close to the surface, a foundation wall of the local lias stone and fragments of pottery and roofing tiles. (fn. 7)
At Glebe Farm, about 300 yards south of the village, the road joins another running east and west. To the east of the farm-house are traces of a rectangular moat, which within living memory was partly filled with water (fn. 8) and may mark the site of the grange or manorhouse of the Priors of Maxstoke. In the field known as Parsons Close, in the western angle of the road junction opposite, there is a large rectangular moated inclosure where foundations were still visible in 1849. (fn. 9) A cottage to the east of the farm on the north side of the road shows some 17th-century framing in the gables and has a central chimney-stack. Another, about 300 yards west of the junction, is of timber-framing and local stone and has a thatched roof. Aston Holdings Farm, ½ mile farther south at the corner of the road to Wilmcote, has a timber-framed barn and other buildings of the 17th century. Mutton Barn, about ¼ mile farther west, is a similar building on stone foundations, with a tiled roof.
Wilmcote is built largely in 18th-and 19th-century brick and local stone. Rows of attached stone cottages on the road from Aston sprang up when the lime and cement works were opened in the 1830's; and nearby, on the top of the hill, a bungalow estate is being developed. But there are some half-dozen houses with remains of 17th-century or earlier timber-framing, the most important being that known as Mary Arden's House near the village green, on the north side of the road to Stratford. It was granted with the manor in 1561 by Thomas Finderne of Nuneaton to Adam Palmer of Aston Cantlow (who appears in 1550 as one of the executors of Robert Arden, Shakespeare's grandfather) (fn. 10) and George Gibbes of Great Wilmcote. (fn. 11) The tradition that it was Mary Arden's home is first recorded by John Jordan in 1798. (fn. 12) The house is a twostoried building of rectangular plan, facing approximately south. It is probably of the first half of the 16th century, but the gabled cross-wing at the east end may be a little later than the rest, as there is a double wall between the two parts on the upper floor. This wing has herring-bone framing in the upper story and gablehead of the front, its east side and back wall being of square framing. The lower story of wide vertical framing has a modern doorway and window. The wing has no fire-places. The remainder is of fairly close-set studding to both stories, with straight struts below the eaves. The front is of two 12-ft. bays (to the middle room) and then three narrower bays, the eastern of which has the plastered side of the central chimneystack and the entrance to the cross-passage west of it; the other two bays are the (former) kitchen with a stone chimney-stack and stone wall at the west end. The upper story is lighted by gabled dormers. Both chimney-stacks have stone fire-places on each floor. The ceilings are open-timbered, the main beams having wide chamfers. The roof-trusses are simple, having tiebeams with straight braces below them, and carrying sloping struts to the principal rafters. The purlins have straight wind-braces.
A small farm-house on the west side of the Billesley road has walls of lias rubble with plain windows having old oak frames and leaded lights. The gableheads have timber-framing, mostly replaced in the east gable by modern brickwork. In the middle of the west side is a square chimney-stack of late-17thcentury bricks.
Newnham is a group of two farms and a number of cottages along a blind lane running southwards from the Little Alne-Bearley Crossroad. It is said to have had a larger population (of some 300) when the Wilmcote stone quarries were in operation.
There are now two farm-houses, Redlands and Tutnell Field Farm, and a number of cottages, three of which have timber-framing of the 17th century or earlier. Redlands, the northernmost of the group, is a late-16th-century house of T-shaped plan; the head of the T, at the west end, has some close studding in the lower story; the upper story and gables are of square framing: the filling-in is partly of daub, partly brick. Much of the south front is covered with rough-cast cement, but framing shows in the east gable.
Tutnell Field Farm is a building of L-shaped plan, altered and enlarged but retaining much of its original timber-framing. The deeds of the property are said to date from the time of Philip and Mary. The two wings, extending southwards and westwards, have gabled ends with cambered tie-beams, &c. East of the house is a long barn of framing with two pairs of great doors, and other buildings are of framing. There are traces of a moat about the farmstead.
The principal house in Little Alne is Holyoake Farm, so named from the family of Holyoake of Studley, who held it as tenants during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It stands on the south side of the road facing north, and has been altered and enlarged, but the north half of its east cross-wing is of mid- to late-16th-century timber-framing. The lower story has close-set studding, the upper story square framing, and in the north gable-head is some geometrical framing. The main block extending westwards shows some square framing, as do a barn and other buildings adjoining it to the north-west, on the road side.
Shelfield has three houses of age. Shelfield House, called Lay Farm in the map of 1776, was probably built by the Skinners late in the 17th and much altered early in the 18th century. It is a square building of two stories and attics, facing north. The walls are of brick with moulded stone plinth, string-courses, and rusticated angle dressings. The back elevation has two gables and the windows, symmetrically arranged, are of the late 17th century, with wood frames. The roofs are tiled and the chimney-stack over each half is panelled. The fire-places have rounded backs and oak lintels. The staircase has turned balusters and moulded handrail. One of the front rooms is lined with early18th-century panelling. The entrance to the front courtyard has a pair of late-17th-century stone gateposts with ball-heads.
North-east of the house is a square pigeon-house of red brick with a gable-head in each face and a lantern above the tiled roof. The bricks are large and are probably Elizabethan. The nests inside are of stone slabs divided vertically by red-brick partitions.
Shelfield Lodge, described by Lewing as 'the Old Manor House' of Shelfield, is a house of irregular plan, dating from about 1600. (fn. 13) The walls were of timberframing, but all have been replaced by brickwork of different periods from the late 17th to the 19th century. There are two early-17th-century chimneystacks of thin bricks, and below one of them is a fireplace 9 ft. wide. The room to it has an open-timbered ceiling with widely chamfered beam and joists. Another room (kitchen) in a projecting wing has a similar ceiling.
The Poplars, or Poplars Hall, was formerly known as Bartlam's Farm. (fn. 14) The plan is of a modified L shape; the north-west wing was probably timber-framed, but the walls are now of red brick: it has a 17th-century fire-place and ceiling-beam. The longer south-east wing has a chimney-stack dated 1688: it is square and has square pilasters at the angles, two on each face, and is curiously treated between them with small patterns, shield, lozenges, &c., picked out in projecting bricks. This part has nothing of interest internally. Adjoining the house is a farm-building of 17th-century timberframing.
Three of the roads in the parish possess some historical interest. The first enters the parish near Shelfield as a continuation of Burford Lane (see Spernall), crosses the river at Little Alne bridge and continues eastward, near Newnham, to Bearley Cross and Warwick. It was anciently a salt-way from Droitwich. The western portion of it is mentioned as the road from Spernall to Aston in a 13thcentury grant by William de Cantilupe to Studley Priory; (fn. 15) the section from about the present railwaybridge to the turn to Newnham was called Port Lane in the Inclosure Award of 1743—a name that still survives in Port Leasow, a field on the south side. The section from the Newnham turn to Bearley Cross is still called Salter's Lane. A road known locally as the Old London Road enters the parish from Great Alne and runs due east under Aston Grove into the road to Billesley at Gallows Green. It branches off again a few yards farther south and continues as a green road along the southern boundary of the parish to Iron Gate Cottages, where it becomes a road again and later joins the Alcester-Stratford road at Wildmoor turnpike. It is described by Sir Simon Archer as one of the two 'eminent' roads in the Hundred of Barlichway (fn. 16) and by Ogilby as a section of the road from London through Buckingham to Bridgnorth, (fn. 17) but seems as such to have fallen into disuse between 1743 and 1776. (fn. 18)
The old Warwick-Alcester road enters the parish on the east at Gospel Oak. Here stood the tumulus from which Pathlow Hundred took its name; this was still in Dugdale's time a meeting-place of the Court Leet and Court Baron, who were wont to assemble in the lane 'in that parte, where the hedges are the best shelter from the winde'. (fn. 19) From this point the road continued downhill and over the Birmingham-Stratford road into Wilmcote. Its course as far as the crossroads is now a field path. In 1664, the inhabitants of Aston Cantlow stood indicted for not repairing 'Pathlowe Lane', (fn. 20) but by the middle of the 18th century it had been diverted to its present line, which joins the main Birmingham road ¼ mile farther south. (fn. 21) The section from the original crossroads to Wilmcote is known as Featherbed Lane, a name which first occurs in 1794. (fn. 22) From Wilmcote it follows the present road to Aston Holdings Farm, and thence cuts across to the London road along a field path which was inclosed early last century. (fn. 23)
Sally Lane, leading southward from Tutnell Field Farm in Newnham, is named in the Inclosure Award. It continues towards Wilmcote along a well-defined green causeway as far as Quarry Pit Covert, where it has been destroyed, and probably came out on the Billesley road at Gallows Green, where there are two fields still known as Sally Lane. A footpath leading from it at the northern end is referred to in the Inclosure Award as Churchway, and one of the open fields of Newnham called Millway, which lay in this direction, no doubt took its name from it.
Shelfield Green was an open space slightly south of the present Green, which has been enclosed since 1776. From here Puck Lane ran westward to the Little AlneShelfield road; it was stopped up by 1776 and has now quite disappeared.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries Aston Cantlow was indicted at Quarter Sessions more frequently than almost any other parish in the county for neglecting to repair its roads. Between 1794 and 1812 fines to be devoted to this purpose totalling £1,250 were ordered to be levied on the inhabitants.
The branch-line of the Great Western Railway from Bearley to Alcester, opened in 1876, runs through the parish, following the line of the river as far as Great Alne station. A halt for Aston Cantlow on this line was made in 1923. (fn. 24)
In 1442 a payment of 6s. 8d. was made to the Gild out of the profits of the rectory. (fn. 25) It is said to have been originally founded by the inhabitants themselves, (fn. 26) but first secured 'lawful establishment' by a royal licence granted to Edward Nevill, lord of the manor, in 1469. (fn. 27) By this instrument the Gild, dedicated in honour of St. Mary, became a corporate body with licence in mortmain to the value of 8 marks yearly. The members were to elect a master and two wardens and to maintain a chaplain to celebrate daily in the parish church for the good estate of the King and Queen and the brethren and sisters of the Gild and their souls after death. In 1535 there were two chaplains receiving stipends of £5 6s. 8d. and £5 respectively. (fn. 28) The estates of the Gild ten years later were valued at £7 9s. 2d. (fn. 29) and included lands and tenements in Aston Cantlow, Newnham, Little Alne, Great Alne, Morton Bagot, Langley, Solihull, Fillongley, and Birmingham. (fn. 30) The property passed to the Crown and was variously disposed of, the mansion or chamber of the Gild in Aston Cantlow, then in the tenure of the chaplain, being granted to John Hulson and Bartholomew Brokesby, scriveners of London, in 1549. (fn. 31) Lands in Aston Cantlow described as having belonged to 'the guild of Aston Chantry' were granted to George Johnson in 1608. (fn. 32)
William de Cantilupe obtained a grant of a market and fair at Aston Cantlow in 1227, (fn. 33) but there is no subsequent mention of them. The fact that by the end of the 13th century there were four (fn. 34) markets and fairs within 5 miles, all in more important places, probably accounts for their disappearance.
A wake was kept at Aston on the Sunday after 6 July and at Wilmcote about a week earlier, within the octave of St. Peter. (fn. 35) Lewing also mentions a 'Church Wake or Dedication Festival' as being observed at Wilmcote in his time on or within the octave of the feast of St. Martin (11 November); though the dedication of the medieval chapel at Wilmcote was to St. Mary Magdalene and the present church, built in 1841, is dedicated in honour of St. Andrew. In Lewing's time also a wake was held at Pathlow on Easter Sunday; and he mentions other wakes, then discontinued, at Newnham on Trinity Sunday, at Little Alne on Whit-Sunday, and at Shelfield in September.
Land at Shelfield was already imparked by the middle of the 13th century, when the second William de Cantilupe granted to Studley Priory all his assarts without the park there as bounded by the road from Spernall to Aston. (fn. 36) Commissions to inquire into charges of deer-stealing in the park were issued between 1272 and 1342. (fn. 37) The park was extended at 152 acres in 1273 (fn. 38) and 161 acres in 1392. (fn. 39) In 1538 the park, with the manor, was in the King's hands by reason of the minority of Henry Neville, the heir. (fn. 40) It is not shown on Saxton's map of 1577, but seventy years later there were apparently two parks here: in 1647 George Skinner was said to have sold to James Heron of Abingdon two-thirds of the manor-house and of Shelfield Park and Lodge Park. (fn. 41) The positions and extent of the parks are indicated by the present Shelfield Lodge and Shelfield Park Farms and by the fields called Middle and Further Park Grounds, Coneyburrow Close and Hill (all on the high ground west of Shelfield Lodge), Park Close to the north, under Stoopers Wood, and Middle and Further Park Close on the boundary of Wootton Wawen parish, about 1¼ miles east of the Lodge. The Lodge Park was probably the original inclosure and Shelfield Park perhaps a later extension of it.
Open Fields and Inclosures
Each of the townships in the Parish had its own system of common fields in medieval times. The demesne, in 1392, included land in Aston field and in a 'field called Newnham'; (fn. 42) and Aston field, Wilmcote field, Little Alne field, the fields of Shelfield, and Newnham field are mentioned c. 1448–50. (fn. 43) Later records indicate a process of subdivision. 'The foure common fields of Newneham' are referred to in 1639 and 1683, (fn. 44) and by 1743 there were five—known as Redland, Wheathill, Tutnell, Millway, and Stone Fields. At the latter date there were three in Aston—Horse Meadow, Upper, and Hill Fields; four in Wilmcote—Townsend, Hert Furlong, Chelshill, and Elderstub (fn. 45) Fields; and seven in Little Alne and Shelfield—Strawberry Hill, Long Furlong, Short Furlong, Meadow Furlong, Round Hill, Winterhill, and Park Fields. (fn. 46) The position of most of these fields can be approximately identified from the Inclosure Award or modern names. The practice of dividing the holdings in the open fields in 'Merestones' is referred to at Wilmcote and Shelfield in 1575. (fn. 47) The waste lay mainly in the south of the parish, by the London road, (fn. 48) and some of the land here is still uncultivated. There was also waste at Newnham, known as Newnham Moors or Newnham Heath. (fn. 49)
The earliest reference to inclosure in the parish is the grant of 200 acres of assart outside Shelfield Park, by William de Cantilupe to Studley Priory, in the 13th century. (fn. 52) Between 1273 and 1348 a great reduction took place in the area of arable in the demesne, from 30 virgates to 80 acres, which is perhaps to be accounted for by imparking or inclosure for pasture. (fn. 53)
The open fields, comprising 116½ yard-lands, were inclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1742. (fn. 54) Aston itself was owned almost entirely by the Earl of Abergavenny, lord of the manor, who held 67¾ yard-lands throughout the parish, and Lord Brooke as lay rector. But in the outlying hamlets the land was more evenly divided, 20 small and medium freeholders accounting for 35 yard-lands in Little Alne and Shelfield, Newnham and Wilmcote. The yard-land averaged about 32 acres and the award covered 3,761½ acres, or rather more than three-quarters of the modern area of the parish. The 25 proprietors in the common fields were compensated at an average rate of about 22 acres to the yard-land. Lord Abergavenny received 2,100 acres; the estate of the lord of the manor comprised 2,989 acres when it was sold in 1918. The Land Tax records (fn. 55) up to 1832 show little evidence of a concentration of ownership, the tendency being probably counteracted to some extent by the gradual inclosure of the waste during that period. By 1830 it was remarked that the parish had been 'much improved in its agricultural appearance'. (fn. 56)
There were formerly extensive quarries of Lower Lias Stone at Wilmcote and Newnham. In 1541 and 1546 Walter Edkins of Newnham was supplying stone from his quarry for the repair of Clopton bridge at Stratford, (fn. 57) and the Stratford Chamberlains' accounts throughout the 17th century contain numerous references to stone from Wilmcote. (fn. 58) Wilmcote stone was also used in the rebuilding of St. Mary's, Warwick, after the fire of 1694. (fn. 59) In 1743 there were two stonemasons in Wilmcote, George Walker and Richard Edkins, each with a small holding in the common fields. (fn. 60) There were also lime-kilns in Newnham and near Clay Hill Farm in Shelfield, but the industry was transformed by the completion of the BirminghamStratford canal in 1816. In addition to the quarries, two lime and cement works were opened at Wilmcote. By the 1870's these had been amalgamated, and they were worked until about thirty years ago by Messrs. Greaves, Bull, and Lakin of Warwick, (fn. 61) who also owned the lime works, still in use, at Stockton and Harbury. The remains of these works can still be seen, by the canal and near Gipsy Hall Farm. There is a disused quarry north of the farm and two more, which were connected with the works by a light, horse-drawn tramway, (fn. 62) at Quarry Pit Covert near Newnham.
The earliest reference to paper-making at Aston Cantlow occurs in the inclosure award of 1743, from which it appears that there must have been a mill near the junction of the Alne and Silesbourne Brook. Thomas Fruin of Aston Cantlow, paper-maker, occurs in 1768, (fn. 63) and about 1799 the mill near the church was converted into a paper-mill by Henry Wrighton. (fn. 64) This family carried on the business until about 1845–50. (fn. 65) The mill was afterwards taken by Messrs. Pardow of Studley for needle-scouring, an industry which lasted here for about forty years. (fn. 66) After a short period during the 90's, during which the mill was used again for its original purpose, it became for a few years a factory for making ball-bearings for bicycles and was finally abandoned about twenty years ago. (fn. 67)
Earl Alfgar, son of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, is given in Domesday as the preConquest owner of ESTONE. In 1086 it appears among the possessions of Osbern Fitz Richard. (fn. 68) It was then rated at 5 hides, and the tenants of the manor included 9 Flemings. By 1169 it had passed to William the Chamberlain of Tankervill, (fn. 69) who, four years later, was farming it of the King at a rent of £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 70) By an undated grant he gave to the Abbey of Winchcombe all the land, in wood and plain, between Alne and his manor of Estone on condition that it should remain uncultivated and that his men should enjoy the same common rights there as they had in the rest of the wood and plain of Alne. (fn. 71) He was still holding the manor in 1177 (fn. 72) and may have been succeeded by Ralph de Tankervill, who is referred to fifty years later as having formerly possessed it. (fn. 73) It ultimately escheated to the Crown (fn. 74) and in 1205 John granted it to William de Cantelupe, (fn. 75) from whose family the village takes its name.
The Cantelupes held the manor for four generations in direct descent. The first William obtained a confirmation of it in 1227, (fn. 76) and again in 1231, (fn. 77) until such time as the King should be pleased to restore it to the right heirs of Ralph Tankervill. This William served King John, as Justiciar and Steward of the Household: he was also several times Sheriff of Warwickshire, and from 1215 to 1223 was Governor of Kenilworth Castle. (fn. 78) On his death in 1239 his son William succeeded him both in his estates and as Steward of the Royal Household. Either William II or his son William III is referred to as holding the manor, valued at £40, by unknown service, of the gift of King John. (fn. 79) The third William acquired the Honor of Bergavenny by his marriage with Eva, daughter and co-heir of William de Braose (d. 1230). He died in 1254, leaving a son George, then aged three, as his heir. (fn. 80) During George's minority the wardship of the manor was granted to the Queen of the Romans, and with him, in 1273, (fn. 81) the male line of the family died out.
The estates were then divided between the two next heirs, John de Hastings, son of Henry de Hastings by Joan de Cantelupe, George's elder sister, and Millicent, his younger sister, wife of Eudo de la Zouche. Aston Cantlow passed, with the Honor of Bergavenny, to John de Hastings, (fn. 82) the wardship of the manor during his minority being granted to Queen Eleanor in 1274. (fn. 83) John obtained licence to grant the manor in fee to his son John in 1309. (fn. 84) On his death in 1313 (fn. 85) a third part of the manor and £10 rent out of the remainder were assigned in dower to his widow Isabel, sister of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, who held them until her death in 1335. (fn. 86) John his son, who inherited the two-thirds, married Juliana, daughter of Thomas de Leyburn, and died in 1325. (fn. 87) He was succeeded by his son Laurence de Hastings, created Earl of Pembroke in 1339 as the representative of Aymer de Valence. On his grandmother's death in 1335 Laurence obtained possession of the whole manor. But in 1346 he granted a lease of two parts of it to William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon, whom Juliana his mother had married as her third husband. (fn. 88) Laurence died in 1348 holding a third of the manor of the King by the service of providing a bowman for 40 days whenever there was a campaign in Wales. (fn. 89) He left as his heir a son John, one year old, and in 1352 the property was committed to the charge of the Earl of Huntingdon. (fn. 90) The latter on his death in 1354 was found to be holding two parts of the manor in right of his wife Juliana's dower, and the third part by the King's concession at a rent of £20 yearly to the Keeper of the Wardrobe. (fn. 91) When Juliana died in 1367 the whole manor was once more united in the hands of her grandson and heir, John de Hastings, second Earl of Pembroke. (fn. 92) In 1369 he, having then no heir, obtained licence from the King to alienate his lands; and on his departure for the war in France, three years later, he left a sealed feoffment to be opened after his death, which took place abroad in 1375. It was then found that he had entailed his estates, in the event of his leaving no issue, on his cousin, Sir William Beauchamp, on two conditions: that he should assume the whole (i.e. undifferenced) arms of Hastings and should endeavour to obtain the title of Earl of Pembroke from the King. (fn. 93) This entail was not immediately effective, as Hastings left an infant son John, who succeeded to the estates though he was never invested with the earldom. He became the ward of the King, who in 1375 granted Aston Cantlow and other manors to his mother Anne to hold as her dower. (fn. 94) These returned to the Crown after Anne's death in 1384, (fn. 95) and in 1390 John de Hastings died before attaining his majority. The greater part of his lands passed to his cousin Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, (fn. 96) who obtained the right to bear the arms of Hastings after a twenty years' dispute in the Court of Chivalry with Edward Hastings, heir of a cadet branch of the family. (fn. 97) The remainder, including Bergavenny and probably Aston Cantlow, passed to Sir William Beauchamp, who was summoned to Parliament as Baron Bergavenny in 1392. (fn. 98) But Grey seems to have had some claim to this portion also, probably on the ground that the conditions of the entail of 1372 had never been fulfilled. (fn. 99) On 2 Dec. 1391 he obtained licence to convey to himself and others the castle, town, and lordship of Bergavenny and other manors, including Aston Cantlow; (fn. 100) and the same trustees or their survivors conveyed the manor of Aston Cantlow to him in 1400–1. (fn. 101) Beauchamp, however, was in possession in February 1400, when he complained against a robbery committed in his house at Aston Cantlow by the Prior of Maxstoke and others. (fn. 102) He died seised of the manor in 1410, (fn. 103) having settled it on his widow Joan for her life with reversion to their son and heir Richard and his daughter Elizabeth who married Edward Nevill, fourth son of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland. Richard, who was created Earl of Worcester, died in 1422 and Joan in 1435. (fn. 104) The manor thus came, in right of his wife, to Edward Nevill, created Baron Bergavenny in 1450; and remained in the family of Nevill, Barons, Earls, and Marquesses of Abergavenny, for over four centuries. In 1874 William, Marquess of Abergavenny, sold it to Thomas Wood (fn. 105) and in 1918 it was offered for sale by the Wood trustees. The estate was then broken up among the tenants: the Gild-house, to which the manorial rights attached, (fn. 106) was bought by Sir Charles Mander of Wolverhampton, whose trustees are the present lords of the manor. (fn. 107)
A quarter of a knight's fee in the manor was held by Walter Rous and others in 1325. (fn. 108) There is no evidence of the estate, but Walter Rous was returned as holding it as a ¼ fee in 1435. (fn. 109)
Lands in Aston Cantlow to the value of £10 a year were granted to Studley Priory by the second William de Cantelupe. (fn. 110) At the Dissolution the priory held property in Aston Cantlow, Shelfield, and Newnham and the manor of LITTLE ALNE. (fn. 111) In 1540 a messuage called Fullys Place and several parcels of land in Little Alne formerly belonging to Studley Priory were granted to Anthony Skinner of London (son of Robert Skinner of Shelfield) and Joan his wife. (fn. 112) In 1554 Skinner received a further grant of the manor of Little Alne, then valued at £8 7s. 1d., and the former lands of the priory in Shelfield, worth 55s. (fn. 113) The Skinners, who lived at Shelfield, held the two manors of Little Alne and Kinwarton (q.v.) until 1624, when William Skinner sold the latter to Lord Brooke. Little Alne, however, remained in the family for about a century longer. William's third brother, Anthony, was holding it in 1640, (fn. 114) and in 1654 petitioned as a recusant to contract for his estates. (fn. 115) He died without issue (fn. 116) and was succeeded by his cousin George apparently by 1662, (fn. 117) though it seems probable that long before this date there had been some division of the property between them. George had received a lease of the tithes of Shelfield Park in 1639, (fn. 118) and before 1647 had sold two-thirds of Shelfield Park, the mansion house, and the Lodge Park to James Heron of Abingdon. (fn. 119) George died in 1680 and was followed by his son John (1637–88) (fn. 120) and grandson Anthony, who was buried at Aston Cantlow in 1725. (fn. 121) He had a son John born in 1716, and in 1730 the Skinners were said to be holding Little Alne on a lease for lives from Lord Abergavenny. (fn. 122) But in 1732 it was conveyed as a manor by Dodington Greville and others to Robert Fulwood and Joan his wife. (fn. 123) The Fulwoods, a branch of the Fulwoods of Tanworth, had been settled in Little Alne since Henry VIII's time, but they seem to have died out soon after 1732. (fn. 124) After this date there is no reference to Little Alne as a manor. About 1790 the property was acquired by Francis Holyoake of Studley Castle who held it on a lease from the Earl of Abergavenny. (fn. 125) His son, Sir F. L. HolyoakeGoodricke, bart., sold it to a Mr. Heming, whose son, Walter Heming of Bewdley, had succeeded to it by about 1850. (fn. 126)
In 1086 Urse held of Osbern Fitz Richard 3 hides in WILMCOTE which Lewin Doda had held freely before the Conquest. (fn. 127) It lay within the Hundred of Pathlow, whereas Aston was in that of Ferncumbe. By 1205, according to Dugdale, it was held by Brito the Chamberlain and in that year was seized by the King, together with the other English lands of Normans. (fn. 128)
In 1228 William de Wilmcote was claiming the advowson of the chapel here against the Archdeacon of Gloucester. (fn. 129) In 1316 Wilmcote is called a hamlet of Aston Cantlow, (fn. 130) and Laurence de Hastings, who succeeded as 2nd Earl of Pembroke in 1325, is said to have given the manor of GREAT WILMCOTE to John son of John de Wyncote. (fn. 131) This John died about 1343 holding 2/3 of a messuage and carucate of land here from the Earl of Pembroke as 1/8 knight's fee, (fn. 132) the other third being held by his mother Eleanor. (fn. 133) He left a widow Joan and four infant daughters, whose wardship and marriage were sold by the earl to Sir John de Hampton, who had married either Joan or, more probably, Eleanor. (fn. 134) During the Black Death (1348–9) (fn. 135) Sir John, Eleanor and Joan, and three of the daughters died; and the last of the daughters, Elizabeth, whose wardship had come to the Crown as guardian of the young Earl of Pembroke, died in 1350. Her kinsman and heir William de Binton, (fn. 136) or de Wyncote, (fn. 137) conveyed the manor to John de Peyto the elder, against whom John de Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, claimed it in 1370 on the ground that the grant to John de Wyncote had been only for life. (fn. 138) No more is known of the manor until 1561, when an estate described as the manor of Great Wilmcote, including Mary Arden's house and land in Shelfield, was granted by Thomas Fynderne of Nuneaton to Adam Palmer of Aston Cantlow and George Gibbs of Wilmcote. Palmer and Gibbs held jointly until 1575, when a partition was made. The descent of Palmer's portion is not known, but Gibbs's, which included Mary Arden's house, remained in the family until another George Gibbs sold it to Matthew Walford of Claverdon in 1704. Walford's son and heir, also Matthew, married Elizabeth Jones and died in 1729, leaving his estates to be held jointly by his five daughters. (fn. 139) Whatever manorial rights may have attached to this property had by now disappeared. At the time of the Inclosure in 1742–3 the manor of Wilmcote was included in that of Aston Cantlow, and Elizabeth Walford, widow, appears in the Award only as the proprietor of 5 yard-lands in the common fields.
In 1315 Henry de Lisle of Moxhull and Joan his wife were holding ½ knight's fee in Wilmcote of the Earl of Warwick, in right of Joan, said to have been heir of John de Wyncote. (fn. 140) This estate came to be known as LITTLE WILMCOTE and is actually in Stratford-on-Avon parish. It passed from Henry to his son John, who entailed it, with the advowson of the chapel, on his wife Maud in 1336. (fn. 141) In 1492 Henry de Lisle and Elizabeth his wife conveyed it as the manor of Little Wilmcote to William Purchas and others, (fn. 142) probably in trust for Hugh Clopton who died in 1496 holding it jointly with certain trustees of Lord Bergavenny as ¼ knight's fee. It then descended to Hugh's heir, William Clopton, grandson of his elder brother Thomas, (fn. 143) and to William's son and grandson, both William, (fn. 144) the latter of whom conveyed it to Robert Broke in 1553. (fn. 145) By 1730 it had come into the possession of the Duke of Dorset. (fn. 146)
In 1086 the Prior of Coventry held NEWNHAM which was assessed at 5 hides. (fn. 147) As it is stated to be in Ferncumbe Hundred this must presumably be the Newnham in Aston Cantlow parish. But there is no other trace of the prior's interest here, nor is Newnham again referred to as a separate manor. (fn. 148) When next mentioned, in 1316, (fn. 149) it is as a hamlet of Aston Cantlow, and it appears to have formed part of the chief manor at least from that time onwards.
SHELFIELD formed part of the chief manor throughout its history. A sixth of a knight's fee here was held by William le Walshe of John de Hastings in 1325, (fn. 150) and again by a William Walsh of the dower of Anne, Countess of Pembroke, in 1376. (fn. 151) Joan Beauchamp, Lady Bergavenny, died holding the manor of Shelfield with that of Aston in 1435. (fn. 152)
There was a mill at Aston in 1086 worth 8s. and 5 sticks of eels. (fn. 153) A fishery but no mill is mentioned in the extents of 1254 (fn. 154) and 1273, (fn. 155) and it is definitely stated in 1325 that there was no mill on the manor. (fn. 156) It had probably therefore been granted by William de Cantilupe to the monks of Studley, who were in possession of it at the Dissolution. It was then farmed at 45s. 8d. by John Palmer, (fn. 157) who also held the mill at Great Alne and the weir and fishery at Haselor (q.v.). In 1554 it was granted to Anthony Skinner with the manor of Little Alne. (fn. 158) By 1743 it belonged to Thomas Archer, afterwards 1st Baron Archer of Umberslade, and, after the title became extinct in 1778, passed to the co-heirs. (fn. 159) This mill, as already stated, became a paper-mill at the end of the 18th century.
There are remains of another mill north of Alne Bridge, which used to be known locally as Swallow Mill, (fn. 160) but may perhaps be identified with the Stretton Mill mentioned in the Hearth Tax return for 1667. (fn. 161) It may also have been the paper-mill of 1743 already referred to. The 'right to Fishery from Sidenham Ford to the Paper Mill' was said in 1748 to belong to the Vicar. (fn. 162)
The chancel, nave, and tower date from late in the 13th century. The nave had a narrow north aisle with the existing arcade of four bays. About the end of the 14th century the north chapel was added, with the arcade of two bays, and the nave aisle was widened to the same span, and probably the arcade rebuilt with much of the original material. The aisle was provided with a stair-turret at the north-west angle, which originally rose above the aisle roof but was reduced in the last century. The church stands close to the Alne and the turret may perhaps have been intended to carry a beacon to light travellers along the causeway over the low-lying water meadows to the castle a few hundred yards to the north. The bell-chamber was added late in the 14th century, and the diagonal buttresses to the lower story then or later. The south walls, probably because of the pressure of the roofs, have been forced out of the perpendicular. In the restoration of 1850 the south wall of the nave had to be entirely rebuilt, with the chancel arch. That of the chancel is still standing; it leans out as much as 1½ ft. at the west end, but has been reinforced outside by additional masonry. The chancel roof had been reconstructed at a lower pitch, with the re-use of the old timbers, before the general restoration of 1850. (fn. 163)
The chancel (39 ft. by 22½ ft.) has a tall east window of three cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and modern tracery of 14th-century character under a pointed head. The inner splays have angle-dressing and the hollowchamfered rear-arch has a hood-mould. The sill has been raised about 2½ ft. in modern times, and below the present sill the lights are panelled in stone. Parts of the older sill and of the jambs are of white soft limestone, probably of the 13th century; above, the jambs are of a hard brown stone, probably from the Cotswold area and of the 14th century: the outer order of the arch is a mixture of the two, and has a hood-mould of the brown stone. In the north wall is a late-13th-century window, in white stone, of two plain pointed lights and a quatrefoil piercing in a two-centred head with an external hood-mould: the hollow-chamfered rear-arch also has a hood-mould. The quatrefoil piercing is set with a circle indicated only on the face of the stonework. West of it is the arcade of two bays to the north chapel. It has an octagonal pillar with moulded capital and base of late-14th-century detail: the responds are square and plastered. The arches are two-centred and of two-chamfered orders and of dark yellow-brown stone. The three windows in the south wall are in keeping with the north window, but a little more elaborately treated in the heads and each differing slightly one from the others. Each is of two trefoiled lights and tracery in a two-centred head with hoodmoulds inside and out. They are of white stone, but the sill of the westernmost window is at a lower level than the others and, with the lowest two or three courses of the jambs, is of brown stone, perhaps an alteration of the 14th century to form a 'low-side'. The priest's doorway between the second and third windows is original and has chamfered jambs and pointed head with an external label: the head is of white stone, the jambs of brown.
Below the sill levels outside are remains of a moulded string-course, below which the walling is of roughly squared and coursed rubble with a few larger stones. Above, in the east wall, it is of rougher and more irregular rubble. Below and on either side of the south-west window is a modern thickening of the wall set vertically, the wall itself leaning outwards, but bolted in at the top with a cross-plate on the face. At the angles are original square buttresses.
In the south wall is an original piscina and three sedilia, all with plain hollow-chamfered jambs and pointed heads with hood-moulds. The last have carved head-stops, one a mitred bishop. A stone bench runs from the doorway to the west end. There is a plain locker in the north wall with a modern door.
The roof is of low pitch and has an elliptical wagonhead ceiling of wide flat rafters and having a middle and two side moulded purlins. The ten interspaces at the east end are plastered, the other fifteen are open. These timbers are apparently of the 16th century, re-set when the pitch was lowered early in the 19th century. It now encroaches on the head of the east window. The rafters are modern and the roof is covered with red tiles.
The chancel arch, of 13th-century style, is entirely modern. The nave (about 43½ ft. by 23½ ft.) has a north arcade of four bays, with octagonal pillars with moulded capitals and bases of the 13th century. The responds are square with chamfered angles and have moulded corbel-capitals: the eastern corbel is modern, replacing one that was found to be an early-13thcentury foliage capital that had been reversed and recut. This capital, which probably belonged to the former chancel arch, now lies on the west windowledge of the north aisle. The arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders. The east respond is of white stone, the west mostly of brown. The pillars are of brown stone in mostly large courses. The arches are a mixture of large brown and small white 13th-century voussoirs. The pillars are generally plumb vertical, but there is more irregularity in the line of the arches, and the capital of the westernmost pillar is set rather to the north of the pillar.
The south wall is all modern and has three windows of one light, three lights, and two lights respectively from east to west, the latter two with tracery in square heads. Between them is the modern south doorway.
The north chapel is traditionally associated with the Gild of St. Mary; it has a pointed window of three lights: the middle cinquefoiled, the others trefoiled, and tracery of a radiating design. The head has hoodmoulds inside and out, with carved stops under the south ends, the inner stop a man's head, too large for its position. The window differs in character from anything else in the church and is said to have come from the medieval chapel at Wilmcote.
The north wall of chapel and aisle is in one range and has two square-headed windows, each of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and tracery of late-14th-century date: the eastern, that to the chapel, has carved stops to the external label, a woman's head and a crawling monster. The north doorway has plain chamfered jambs and a hollow-chamfered segmental rear-arch, with a hood-mould having remains of head-stops. The west window is like the others, but has no label. The windows are of white stone, the doorway of grey, red, and brown stones.
The stair-turret has four sides of a regular hexagon outside, set diagonally to the north-west angle, and is circular inside. In the splay in the aisle is an ogeeheaded doorway, and above it near the ceiling is a sexfoil circular window set in a square frame formed by the chamfered outer order. In the north outer face is a rectangular loop-light, and higher in the north-east face another round light filled with revolving tracery, also in a square frame, of brown stone. The central-newel steps are in position but there is now no outlet at the top.
The aisle walls are of lias rubble but in the south half of the west wall, where there is an indefinite seam below the window, are many larger grey stones, probably part of the earlier aisle. The east and north walls have a chamfered plinth, but it is lacking in the west wall; at the north-east angle is a diagonal buttress of red sandstone and there are two intermediate buttresses of a dark, almost black, stone: the tops of the buttresses are channelled for rain-water from the roof. The parapets have plain copings and moulded stringcourses.
Above the north doorway outside is a niche, about a yard wide, with a trefoiled ogee-head, double-chamfered jambs, and moulded sill. In it is a carving of the Nativity with a recumbent figure of the Blessed Virgin and at her feet the remains of the figure of St. Joseph. The gabled roof of the nave in six bays is modern. The aisle roof, said to have been formerly gabled, is now almost flat. The ceiling is divided into seven bays by moulded cambered beams now reinforced at the north ends with short cantilever pieces. Along the north wall is a moulded stone cornice.
The west tower (about 13½ ft. north to south by 15 ft.) is divided externally by a string-course into two stages, the lower of the 13th century, the upper late 14th century. The walls are of thin rubble stones with small angle-dressings and a chamfered plinth. At the west angles are comparatively low diagonal buttresses of ashlar, probably 15th-century additions. The parapets are embattled and have square pointed pinnacles above the angles. The arch towards the nave has square jambs with chamfered angles and the head is two-centred and of three chamfered orders, the innermost springing from moulded corbel-capitals. Wallpaintings, probably of the 17th or 18th century, representing Time with a scythe and Death as a skeleton with a spade, were removed from the other side of the tower arch when the church was restored. (fn. 164) In the west wall is a single light with a segmental-pointed head, a nearly flat rear-arch, and wide internal splays. There are two upper stories in the lower stage, below the bellchamber; the first floor has a tiny round-headed 12thcentury light in the west wall, perhaps removed from the south wall of the nave demolished in 1850; (fn. 165) in the second floor is a lancet window of two chamfered orders in the west wall, and lancets, set rather east of the middle of the wall, in the north and south sides: the latter have roll-moulded jambs and heads. The bell-chamber is lighted in each wall by a pair of windows, each of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil in a twocentred head with a hood-mould.
The font is probably of the 15th century. The bowl is octagonal and has in each face a quatrefoil panel with a central flower. The underside is hollow-moulded and has a flower in the middle of each side. Below each alternate angle is a carved human head of a bearded man (one broken): they spring from the tops of square pilasters about the main octagonal stem: the base is hollow-moulded.
There are a few fragments of ancient glass. In the south-west window of the chancel are two small roundels of ruby glass in the trefoils of the tracery. In the north window of the north chapel is the head of a 'Majesty' with a cross nimbus, and other fragments of white slightly stained yellow, of c. 1400. There are also some pieces of foliage quarries in the west window of the aisle.
A certain amount of old woodwork exists. The reredos has some re-used 15th-century tracery from the closed panels of a former seat or screen. Two chairs in the chancel are made up with three half-standards from former stalls. One poppy head has a female head with vine-foliage issuing from the mouth: the others are foliage. The pulpit dates from the 15th or early 16th century. The six sides have trefoiled ogee-headed panels with rosette cusp-points and crocketed finials with a sept-foiled main head with foliage spandrels; the rails and angle-posts are moulded and have buttresses with moulded offsets and crocketed finials. In the north aisle a desk has been cut into two half-lengths that have old poppy heads and panelled fronts.
In the tower are three oak chests; one 4 ft. 8 in. long, another 4 ft. 3 in., and the third 3 ft. 7 in., with turned feet and carved panels, all of the 17th century. There is also a Bible-box 1 ft. 11 in. long with incised carving on the front.
Of the six bells the treble is dated 1924; the second, dated 1629, and third and fourth, dated 1626, bear the founder's mark of Thomas Hancox of Walsall. The fifth is an early-15th-century bell from the Worcester foundry and is inscribed ad lavdem clare michaelis do resonare in Lombardic capitals, with king and queen head-stops between the words. The tenor is by Richard Keene 1681. (fn. 166)
Domesday records a priest at Aston. (fn. 167) The advowson probably descended with the manor until the second William de Cantelupe (c. 1239–51) gave it to Studley Priory. (fn. 168) This grant was the basis of a claim which the convent continued to assert, at intervals for the next two centuries. The appropriation to Studley, so it was afterwards alleged, was made by the bishop, (fn. 169) but George de Cantelupe died seised of the advowson in 1273, (fn. 170) and it passed with the manor to John de Hastings, who in 1296 had licence to give it to Studley in exchange for land in Aston Cantlow. (fn. 171) But in 1313 the advowson passed with a third of the manor in dower to Isabel de Hastings, (fn. 172) whose second husband, Ralph de Monthermer, presented in 1319. (fn. 173) She herself presented in 1328, (fn. 174) and, although in that same year Studley Priory obtained confirmation of the original grant of William de Cantelupe, (fn. 175) the King presented as the guardian of Laurence de Hastings in 1336. (fn. 176) In 1345 Laurence de Hastings granted the advowson, with a rood of land, to William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon, (fn. 177) who in the same year bestowed it upon his newly founded Priory of Maxstoke. (fn. 178) They obtained royal licence for the appropriation, (fn. 179) which was made by the Bishop of Worcester, (fn. 180) and remained in undisturbed possession for nearly fifty years. In 1389, John de Aston was admitted vicar on their presentation: (fn. 181) but in 1394 Studley Priory began a prolonged lawsuit in support of their claim. (fn. 182) They based their case on William de Cantelupe's original grant and said that William de Clinton had himself no right to the patronage which he granted to Maxstoke, and that the latter had obtained surreptitious confirmation by papal authority. (fn. 183) The cost of the defence over the next twenty years is estimated at some £930 in the Maxstoke Cartulary, which records the sale of books and jewels and the pledging of the cope among the expedients adopted to raise the money. (fn. 184) In 1399 the Prior of Studley received all the rents except 3s., and the whole farm except £13 (fn. 185) : and proceedings in the Archidiaconal court of Canterbury were interrupted by a papal bull in favour of Studley, whose prior, John de Evesham, thereupon presented to the vicarage. (fn. 186) Maxstoke replied by suing a writ in the King's court (fn. 187) and were alleged to have repossessed themselves of the church by force of arms. (fn. 188) The Crown claimed to have held the advowson since Edward III's reign, apparently in right of the royal wardship of successive lords of the manor, (fn. 189) and in 1402 Thomas Burdet was admitted on the King's presentation. (fn. 190) When Burdet died in the following year the Prior of Studley intruded his nominee, Thomas Shelford. (fn. 191) The King by a writ in the royal courts, again recovered the presentation, which was granted by Letters Patent to Maxstoke in 1404 (fn. 192) and confirmed to them in 1406. (fn. 193) Maxstoke also obtained two definitive sentences in the papal court. (fn. 194) Studley twice appealed, without success, against these judgements, the second time in 1412. By that time they had given up the church, but refused to surrender the tithe corn which they had appropriated; and it was decreed that if after a year they still persisted in withholding it they should be cited as suspect of heresy. (fn. 195) It was not until 1493 that Studley finally renounced its claims. (fn. 196) Maxstoke meanwhile presented without interruption from 1407 until the Dissolution.
After the Dissolution the advowson passed to the Crown, (fn. 197) and was granted to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, in 1538, the next presentation in 1553 being made by his co-heirs, Henry, Duke of Suffolk, and Frances his wife, Lady Margaret Clifford, and Sir William Stanley (fn. 198) (his grandson by his daughter Mary and Thomas Stanley, Lord Monteagle). Stanley, who became Lord Monteagle in 1560, died in 1581, leaving as his heir a daughter Elizabeth, wife of Edward Parker, 12th Lord Morley. (fn. 199) The advowson presumably descended in this family, since Henry, Lord Morley and Monteagle, was holding it in 1631 (fn. 200) and 1637. (fn. 201) But by 1674 it had passed to Thomas Habington of Hindlip, grandson of the Worcestershire antiquary and Mary, eldest daughter of Edward, 12th Lord Morley. (fn. 202) On Thomas's death without issue, his cousin Sir William Compton, 1st bart. of Hartpury, Glos. succeeded to his estates. The right of next presentation seems about this time to have been frequently granted out. (fn. 202) Sir William's grandson William, the 3rd bart., died in 1758, leaving two sons, successively 4th and 5th barts., and three daughters, Jane, Catherine, and Helen. The last-named married John Dalby of Hurst, Berks., (fn. 203) who was patron of Aston Cantlow in 1739 (fn. 204) and 1743 (fn. 205), and died without issue. (fn. 206) In 1776 John Berkeley of Worcester, husband of Sir William Compton's eldest daughter Jane, conveyed the patronage to the Rev. Sheldon Stephens, (fn. 207) but Rowland Berkeley of Cotheridge, the representative of a collateral branch, presented in 1791. (fn. 208) The Rev. Richard Simcoe Carles was instituted on his own petition as patron in 1800 and again in 1809. (fn. 209) During the 1830's the advowson was bought by the Rev. Francis Fortescue-Knottesford of Alveston manor, (fn. 210) whose grandson, the Rev. J. N. KnottesfordFortescue, the present vicar of Wilmcote, has been, since 1935, joint patron with the Society for the Maintenance of the Faith. (fn. 211)
The church was valued in 1291 (fn. 212) and 1340 (fn. 213) at £22, including in the latter year £10 for the glebe. The rectory passed to Maxstoke in 1345 and was administered as a manor. Their estate here consisted, apart from the tithes, of 6 messuages with holdings in the common fields and 118 acres described in 1350 as the appurtenance of the church. (fn. 214) A pension of 13s. 4d. was payable out of the profits of the rectory to the Bishop of Worcester as a condition of the appropriation (fn. 215) and was granted to the Dean and Chapter in 1542. (fn. 216) In 1535 the farm of the rectory was worth £24 (fn. 217) and the vicarage £9 9s. 7d., (fn. 218) and the Priors of Maxstoke enjoyed in addition an income of 30s. from lands and tenements. (fn. 219)
In 1538 the possessions of the Priory were granted to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, (fn. 220) who sold them (the advowsons excepted) to Robert Trappes of London, goldsmith, and Joan his wife in 1540. (fn. 221) On the death of Robert's son Nicholas in 1565, (fn. 222) what was described as the manor and rectory of Aston Cantlow was allotted to his daughter Alice wife of Henry Browne of Maxstoke. (fn. 223) Their son Francis Browne sold it to Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, in 1622. (fn. 224)
The manor and rectory sold in 1622 appears to have included about 95 acres of land. (fn. 225) The rectory was let in 1639 for a total rent of £205, (fn. 226) which had sunk to £149 by the end of the century. (fn. 227) By 1743 Lord Brooke held 12 yard-lands and the corn tithes of the greater part of the parish. (fn. 228) In the Inclosure Award that year he was compensated as lay rector with a holding of 347 acres which included the present Glebe Farm, on which is still charged the maintenance of the chancel of the church.
The vicarage was ordained in 1345, the vicar being allowed the rectory house, all tithes except those of grain and hay, and 14 acres of land to maintain a clerk to serve the cure. (fn. 229) The Prior of Studley, in the dispute over the advowson, stated that Maxstoke had not occupied the glebe. (fn. 230) But in fact one John Carles was holding the glebe and the appurtenances of the church, owing suit of court to the Prior of Maxstoke and a rent of 8s. in 1350. (fn. 231) In 1743 the vicarial tithes were commuted for corn rents to the value of £57.
There was a chapel at Wilmcote, first mentioned in 1228 when the advowson was in dispute between William de Wilmcote, and the Archdeacon of Gloucester. (fn. 232) In the 14th century the advowson was held with the manor of Little Wilmcote, until in 1481 Henry de Lisle gave it to the Gild of the Holy Cross at Stratford. (fn. 233) The chaplains were instituted and inducted by the vicars of Stratford. (fn. 234) There is still a field in Wilmcote called Chapel Close.
The modern church of St. Andrew, built in 1841, is a monument to the influence of the Oxford Movement in the parish. It was built by the Rev. Francis Fortescue-Knottesford and his son, who became the first curate, to meet the semi-industrial conditions created in Wilmcote by the opening of cement works in the thirties. (fn. 235) The church with the vicarage and schools adjoining was designed by Butterfield and was widely admired among Tractarians as a pure specimen of the Gothic Revival. It consists of a chancel, nave, and two aisles built of lias stone in the 13th-century style. It contains a carved wooden panel, in high relief, representing the Entombment, of early-16th-century date, probably German. In the vestry is the head of a 14th-century processional cross, found in a neighbouring field. It bears the symbols of the evangelists on its arms, and to it has been fixed a figure (?15thcentury) also found locally. Wilmcote was perhaps the first church in England in which the use of Sarum vestments was revived, and one of the earliest retreats for priests was organized here in 1847–8. (fn. 236) The same religious impulse was felt at Aston during the incumbency of the Rev. Herbert Hill (1846–9), when the school was builtand the restoration of the church began. (fn. 237)
Wilmcote became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1863. The advowson was held by the Bishop of Worcester until 1893 when it passed to the present patrons, the Society for the Maintenance of the Faith. (fn. 238)
A chapel of ease at Shelfield was licensed by the Bishop of Worcester in 1391. (fn. 239) The building had been converted to a dwelling house by 1866. (fn. 240) It was still commemorated, as late as the third quarter of last century by a field known as Chapel Piece. (fn. 241)
There was also a chapel at Newnham, though no written record of it survives earlier than 1749 when it had been converted to secular uses. (fn. 242) George Lewing about 1850 notes 'a piece of ruined walls which is said formerly to have been a chapel' and that 'a House close by appears to have been part of an ancient building'. These have now quite disappeared but there are still traces of earthworks and moats in Old Close, east of Tutnell Field Farm, and in a field near by called Moat Meadow.