A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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Population: 1911, 211; 1921, 174; 1931, 156.
The parish of Bearley is bounded on the north by Wootton Wawen and Langley, on the east by Snitterfield, and on the south and west by Aston Cantlow. The western boundary is formed by a stream running out of Edstone Lake; this may perhaps be the Chellewellesiche mentioned in the 12th century as one of the bounds of land given to Reading Abbey. (fn. 1) If so, it would seem that the land, now part of Edstone in Wootton Wawen, between the stream where it flows west from the lake and the road running east from Bearley Cross, was originally included in Bearley.
The land within the parish rises gradually from a height of 216 ft. in the north-west at Bearley Cross to about 370 ft. at the south-east corner of the parish, and is open except along its eastern boundary, where part of the extensive wood known as Snitterfield Bushes is included in Bearley.
At Bearley Cross the road running west to Alcester and east to Warwick is crossed by the main road running north-west from Stratford-on-Avon to Henley-inArden. The Great Western Railway to Warwick runs through the north-west corner of the parish, the lines from Stratford and Alcester joining close to Bearley station, opened in 1860. (fn. 2) A little south of the Cross and the station a road runs south-east from the Stratford road, passing the Grange and the Manor House, to the church. This seems to be the Saltereswey which in 1249 formed one of the limits of the demesnes of Bearley, (fn. 3) the others being the high road from Stratford to Henley and the Lochamwey, which may be identified with the road, passing the Methodist chapel, connecting the other two roads.
The Manor House, north-west of the church, is a much altered and enlarged building with remains of timber-framed walls and open-timbered ceilings of the 16th or 17th century in its eastern half. One room, formerly the kitchen, has a wide fireplace. A barn east of the house is also of 17th-century framing.
Three cottages between the church and Manor House have visible remains of 17th-century framing; one is thatched.
A loop-road south of the church contains several ancient buildings. Stone House on the west side of the loop is, as its name implies, partly of stone, and is without any ancient features. The deeds of the site go back to 1660, when it was known as Hall End Yard. (fn. 4) A reconstructed wing of close-set framing has been added to its north front by the late owner: this was originally in Church Street, Stratford-on-Avon, and was displaced by the present offices of the Farmers' Union.
Two cottages south of it show some 17th-century timber construction; and a farm-house farther south, of T-shaped plan, has one wing of similar square framing. Another to the east is mostly of red brick, but shows some framing in a gable-head.
From the village one road runs north to Edstone, becoming a bridle path after it sends off a branch eastwards to Snitterfield. Another runs south towards Pathlow in Aston Cantlow.
Under an Act of 1775, (fn. 5) at which time less than onesixth of the land in the parish was inclosed, Bearley was included with Wootton Wawen for inclosure; the 740 acres were held by 13 freeholders, of whom 8 possessed over 50 acres each. (fn. 6) The uninclosed lands lay in seven common fields—Bushes Field, Cade Hill and Cadehill Field, Frankmill, Henthill, Holding, Mill, and Smith's Fields.
At the time of the Domesday Survey the 5 hides of BEARLEY were held in two portions: 1 hide was among the lands of Robert de Stafford, of whom it was held by Ailric, who had held it before the Conquest. (fn. 7) About 1175 this was in the tenure of Hervey de Stratton, who with his son Richard remitted his rights therein to his overlord Robert de Stafford, (fn. 8) grandson of the Domesday Robert. By Robert it was granted to the Abbey of Bordesley. (fn. 9)
The other 4 hides were held in 1086 by William son of Corbucion. They had been held in the time of the Confessor by Ernewin and his mother; and a house in Warwick was attached to this estate. (fn. 10) The overlordship came to the Earl of Warwick, of whom Bearley was held as one knight's fee by John de Cantilupe in 1235 and 1242. (fn. 11) In 1278 it was stated that for the last twenty years John de Cantilupe had withdrawn the services of the inhabitants of Bearley from the hundred court to the court of his manor of Snitterfield, (fn. 12) and his son John in 1316 was lord of Bearley, which then ranked as a hamlet of Snitterfield, (fn. 13) and the two places jointly constituted a knight's fee in 1428. (fn. 14) It then followed the descent of Snitterfield (q.v.), being held in 1509 by the King. (fn. 15)
The manor was possibly held in fee by a family who derived their name from the vill and certainly held a considerable estate there. Towards the end of the 12th century William de Burle gave to Bordesley Abbey 20 acres which he held of Walter Cumin in Claverdon, (fn. 16) and he is said to have also given in 1189 his rights in the chapel of Bearley and 1 virgate of land, which was confirmed to the monks by his son John; (fn. 17) but in fact the latter gave the chapel to the Priory of Wootton Wawen in 1221. (fn. 18) John had been succeeded before 1249 by his son William, who in that year granted the next ten crops of his demesnes in Bearley to Bordesley Abbey. (fn. 19) His eldest son was probably John de Burle, (fn. 20) who was living in 1262 (fn. 21) and seems to have had a son John, (fn. 22) but to have been succeeded by his brother William. (fn. 23) This William son of William de Burle (fn. 24) in 1290 conveyed to Nicholas de Warrewyk a messuage, a carucate of land, and rents in Bearley. (fn. 25) William son of Nicholas de Warrewyk and Margaret his wife made a settlement of lands in Bearley and elsewhere in 1313, (fn. 26) and two years later sold the 'manor' of Bearley to Robert Moryn of Snitterfield and Margaret his wife. (fn. 27) After Robert's death Margaret married John de Cumpton, (fn. 28) and in 1334 John son of Robert Moryn granted the manor to John and Margaret for their lives, with reversion to himself; (fn. 29) but no more is heard of it, and Dugdale is probably correct in his surmise that it was 'swallowed up amongst divers petty Freeholders'.
In addition to the hide which Robert de Stafford had given to Bordesley Abbey (see above) the monks acquired a number of small properties in Bearley. Many of these were given by members of the de Burle family; (fn. 30) other donors (fn. 31) include, in 1280, Ralph Geri. (fn. 32) He was descended from Geri, from whom William de Burle in about 1180 claimed ½ hide, which he subsequently obtained from Richard son of Geri; (fn. 33) Richard died in 1221 (fn. 34) and was succeeded by his brother Thomas. (fn. 35) By 1291 the abbey's estates in Bearley amounted to 2 carucates. (fn. 36) They constituted the 'manor or grange' of Bearley which was leased at a rent of £3 to John Hyll for 40 years in 1535. (fn. 37) At the Dissolution this manor came to the Crown, and in 1545 it was granted to Clement Throckmorton and Alexander Avenon. (fn. 38) Throckmorton sold it in 1549 to William Walter. (fn. 39) It then descended with Binton (q.v.) to Sir Simon Fanshawe, who in 1658 sold a moiety to Francis Warner. His grandson Francis in 1720 sold it to William Mortiboys, whose niece Mary sold it in 1776 to John Lloyd of Snitterfield. (fn. 40) The other moiety was probably sold by Sir Simon with Wagperton to Sir Thomas Rawlinson, as 'Mr. Rawlinson' was said to be lord of the manor in 1730. (fn. 41)
The titular lord of the manor of Snitterfield and Bearley, however, from at least as early as 1763 was the Earl of Coventry, by whom it was sold in 1816 to Robert Phillips, since which time it has descended with Snitterfield (q.v.) and is now held by the trustees of the late Lady Trevelyan. (fn. 42)
Reading Abbey in about 1170 received from John de Kinton land in Bearley and 'Azceals' or 'Echles' which he had of the gift of William, Earl of Warwick; its bounds are given as from Chelewellesiche to Pauenhale, thence to Allrensiche, thence to the road coming from Warwick, and by the road to the cross and Codesturne (in Preston Bagot). (fn. 46) The grant was confirmed by Earl Waleran. (fn. 47) Gerard son of William de Burle also gave land here, his gift being confirmed by his father and by John de Burle, (fn. 48) his uncle. (fn. 49) These holdings probably became attached to the abbey's manor of Rowington (q.v.).
The parish church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN has been largely rebuilt in modern times, but the nave dates probably from the end of the 12th century and the chancel with its thinner walls may be of the 13th or 14th century. Much of the upper part of the walling is modern, also all the windows. The nave was lengthened about 10 ft. and the western porch and bell-turret was added early in the 19th century. The plan is a plain rectangle about 55½ ft. long inside, of which about 20½ ft. is the chancel, by 15½ ft. The chancel walls are 2 ft. 3 in. thick, built of lias rubble, mostly squared in the lower parts and with sandstone angle-dressings. It is probable the north wall has been partly rebuilt. The east window is a single light set high up, but there is a patching for a former lower window. The north and south windows are of two lights and were also formerly lower in the walls. About a yard east of them are short straight joints and pieces of sandstone that may indicate former windows. The nave has side walls 2 ft. 9 in. thick; the lower halves of them are of early shaly rubble with wide jointing, and above this are medieval sandstone courses. The north and south windows are of two lights and both have patchings below them for lower windows. In the north wall are the remains of a 12thcentury doorway of sandstone, now blocked: it has jambs of two orders, the inner with an edge-roll; the outer is square and had nook-shafts, which have disappeared except for the western capital; this is of cushion form with cheveron ornament. The head is pointed and of one square order, probably a later alteration. In the south wall is another blocked doorway with square pilaster-jambs and pointed head, perhaps of the 13th century but difficult to date. The two buttresses to each wall are medieval. The west wall and porch-tower are of red brick. The bell-cote is of wood. The main roof is tiled.
One of the three bells is medieval. (fn. 50)
The register of baptisms begins in 1549, of marriages in 1550, and of burials in 1552.
In 1221 John de Burle granted the advowson of the chapel of Bearley to the Prior of Wootton Wawen. (fn. 51) From this time Bearley was attached to the church of Wootton Wawen (q.v.). After the estates of the suppressed priory had come to King's College, Cambridge, it became a perpetual curacy in the gift of the college as rectors. The great tithes were paid to King's College, (fn. 52) and about 1730 they were leased to Lady Carrington, who paid £4 to the curate; in addition he had certain 'privy tithes' worth £5, (fn. 53) and the curacy was subsequently augmented by grants of £600 from Queen Anne's Bounty and £200 from private benefactors, being worth £64 yearly in 1850. (fn. 54) During the later 19th century the incumbent was, as in the case of most perpetual curacies, usually styled vicar. In May 1929 Bearley was ecclesiastically united with Snitterfield, (fn. 55) and the patronage of the living is now vested jointly in the bishop and the vicar of Wootton Wawen.