A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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The parish is 2 miles north of Alcester and 5 miles south of Redditch. The River Arrow, a tributary of the Alne, flows through the eastern part of it and the Ridgeway forms the western boundary. The river valley lies low, at no point more than 200 ft. above sea-level, with gentle hills east and west. Cane Brook (Kanonesbrok (fn. 1) in 1348), (fn. 2) running south of east and entering the Arrow just above Coughton Court, forms the boundary between Coughton and Sambourne. Thundering Brook, which rises near Alcester Warren and runs into Cane Brook, may be the 'torrent called Corremore' which ran between Wike and Sambourne in the 13th century. (fn. 2) In the 14th century Haselbrok ran into the Arrow, (fn. 2) probably from the east, a little north of Windmill Hill, and there was a watercourse called le Prestespole by the way to Stratford in 1357. (fn. 2) The whole district was in the Middle Ages watery and subject to floods. (fn. 2)
Geologically Coughton falls within the Triassic area of Keuper red marls, with sandstone and pebbles in the river bed. The sub-soil is clay and gravel and anciently there were marl-pits (fn. 3) —Alexander de Kinewarton was fined in 1262 for having one in his wood at Coughton to the injury of the king's forest (fn. 4) —but nothing now is worked. The greater part of the land is in pasture, with some woodland.
The village lies on the Birmingham-Alcester road, which here follows the line of the Roman Icknield Way. The road skirts the grounds of Coughton Court, which, with the church next to it, is clearly visible about 400 yards to the east. Also in the grounds and a little to the south stand the Roman Catholic Church—a stone building with chancel, north chapel, and nave—and priest's house, both erected c. 1853–5. Along the south side of the grounds an old packhorse road known as Warwick Lane runs down to a ford across the Arrow, beyond which also branches off the old road from Coughton to Stratford. (fn. 5) At the Corner of Warwick Lane and Icknield Street is the stump and base of a medieval cross, raised on a platform of three steps. Here, according to local tradition, travellers entering or having successfully emerged from the wilds of Feckenham Forest were wont to offer prayer or thanksgiving. There was a gate into the Forest near-by in 1295. (fn. 2) Wike Lane, anciently Wike Way, runs north-east from Icknield Street to Sambourne, and there is a track along the east bank of the Arrow to Spernall.
On the west side of the main road, opposite the park, are several old cottages. Probably the oldest is the smithy and cottage at the north corner of the road to Sambourne. It is a rectangular structure of two stories c. 1500, with timber-framed walls showing curved braces at both ends and in the north half of the east front. The framing inside divides it into three bays: a chimney-stack with a wide fire-place is built between the middle and the south bay, which is the smithy. The upper story has original roof trusses with 15-in. cambered tie-beams, and curved braces below them, and the side-purlins have curved wind-braces.
At the opposite corner of the lane is a timber-framed cottage with dormer windows, probably of the 17th century. The Post Office farther south, on the main road, has an 18th-century front but shows some 17thcentury timber-framing in the back wing and has at its north end an old chimney-stack of thin bricks. A timber-framed farm building has been converted to a village room with a County Library, &c. The almshouses next south have been refronted with modern brick but have 17th-century timber-framing in the back wall and three of the four chimney-stacks are of that date; the roof is tiled. There are three other detached cottages to the west, in the side road; they show timber-framing in the walls and have thatched roofs. Many old houses were taken down about fifty years ago. The map of 1746, for instance, shows several in Cane Close along Coughton Street near the Cross, all of which have disappeared, and several more along the old road to Stratford than can be seen to-day.
The lost hamlet of Wike lay west of Coughton, between Icknield Street and 'La Trenche', now Dane's Bank, with Wike Lane north-east. Wike Wood is in the area emparked by Robert Throckmorton in 1486 (vide infra). By Dugdale's time it had ceased to have any separate existence and is marked as a depopulated place in Beighton's map of 1725: it survives now only in the name of Wike Lane and the rectangular earthwork called Wike Moat. This, which is probably the site of the house of the de Coctuns and de Bruylys, stands on the south side of the lane about half a mile west of Coughton village and is crossed by a private road to Coughton Lodge. The moat is dry but deeply scarped, with a bank on the north side and a short bank on the south, east of the roadway. The west half of the south side is flattened out.
The woodland in Coughton in 1086 measured 6 furlongs in length by 4 in breadth. (fn. 6) The whole village west of the Arrow was, according to the perambulation of 1300, formerly taken by King John into the royal forest of Feckenham, and Coughton continues to figure in forest proceedings up to the reign of Henry VIII. Such significant names as de Spineto, de Parco, and de Broylly or Bruyly occur frequently in the records. An incident of 1520 shows the strength of local feeling against the forest. John Levys and Richard Gyfforth, servant to George Throckmorton, killed a doe in the forest near to the Ridgeway and carried it to the lodge in Coughton Park, and Gyfforth was rebuked by his master—not for poaching, but for omitting to shoot the keeper when he was taken. (fn. 7) The boundary of the forest in Coughton parish varied from time to time. On the earthwork known as Dane's Bank (formerly La Trenche) (fn. 8) are traces of a row of stakes which, it has been suggested, marks its eastern limits at some period and was used as a deer leap.
There is no park in the ordinary sense attached to Coughton Court other than Cane Close, which lies between it and Icknield Street, and no common or heath remains. There was a heath in Wike and there is still an area called Coughton Park in the angle of the Ridgeway and Wike Lane, wherein a small patch of ancient woodland remains. (fn. 9) This park was inclosed by Robert Throckmorton in 1486 and Sambourne Heath (which is not in Sambourne) and Spinney's Leys were added later. A park with pales and two lodges appears among the possessions of the manor about 1625. A letter of the late 17th century from the then occupant of Coughton Lodge, which lies a little east of the wood, near Wike Moat, mentions the inclosure of another 16 or 18 acres out of the common park; and Great, Little, and Hither Park are field names in a map of 1746. The lord's waste lay in the angle formed by Wike Lane, Icknield Street, and the road to Worcester, where the Post Office now stands.*
Coughton Court is built partly of timber-framing and partly of stone and brick. It is ranged about three sides of a courtyard, c. 32 yards by 19 yards, the stone gate-house being on the west, and the timber-framed wings forming the long north and south sides. An eastern range was removed in 1780.
The long timber-framed wings were built probably by the first Sir Robert Throckmorton early in the 16th century. His son Sir George, according to Dugdale, 'built that stately castle-like gatehouse of freestone . . . intending (as it should seem) to have made the rest of his house suitable thereto'; (fn. 10) but this probably refers only to the upper stories of the present gate-house. The lower part, which is of different design and material, was probably built by the Spineys, who held the manor before the Throckmortons. The south range was widened and altered later in the 16th century and the present upper hall created, the north range being at the same time heightened by another story. The damage of the Civil War was repaired by Sir Francis, the second baronet, after the Restoration, and the short parallel wing on the south side, with its 'Dutch' gables, seems to have been added about the end of the century. In 1780 the west front was remodelled, the east range removed, and the moat filled in. In 1835 the windows of the west elevation were 'Gothicized', and probably the north wing on this front was added to make it symmetrical. The chief work since 1835 has been the introduction by Sir William, the 9th baronet, of the main staircase in the Long Hall, which was brought from Harvington Hall, Worcestershire.
Owing to the adherence of the Throckmortons to the Roman Communion the house had an eventful history in Tudor and Stuart times and there is much interesting material on recusancy among the family muniments. A return of recusants in Warwickshire in November 1592 includes Mrs. Mary Arden (daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton) at Coughton, (fn. 11) and owing to the suspicious character of those who frequented the house, the Privy Council sent an order for her arrest the following year. (fn. 12) Twelve years later came the Gunpowder Plot. Many of the conspirators were connected by marriage or friendship with the Throckmorton family, so when they required a refuge or rallying point in a district where they were likely to find supporters it was natural that they should think of Coughton. Sir Everard Digby therefore rented or borrowed Coughton Court from Thomas Throckmorton, who had prudently gone abroad. There he installed his wife in the autumn, there swift horses waited in the stables, thither came the Jesuit Fathers Garnett and Greenway, there Mass was said and, as was alleged by the prosecution but denied by Garnett, Catholics were bidden to make special prayers at the opening of Parliament for the success of their cause. A room in the tower is said to have been used as a chapel: (fn. 13) its windows command a view of the countryside in all directions and on the approach of danger priest, sacred vessels, and ornaments could be thrust into a small cell concealed below a more obvious 'hide' in a turret. In the room below the women of the family and the priests are said to have sat waiting for news of the Plot. However, when Thomas Bates came from the 'hunt' at Dunchurch he brought news of disaster; the priests went away to death and some of the wives were soon widows. (fn. 14) In the Civil War the Throckmortons naturally took the side of the king. Some loyalists from Coughton were summoned to London in the company of Mr. William Dugdale of Shustoke. (fn. 15) On 20 Oct. 1643 the house was occupied by a Parliamentary garrison from Warwick, (fn. 16) whereupon an opposing force of Royalists from Worcester set out to relieve it. On 28 Oct. Major John Bridges wrote to Colonel Purefoy that 600 men were set down before Coughton Court. 'You know how concerned we are to give them speedy relief; if that place is lost, all that part of the country is gone. Our men have little ammunition, therefore I beseech you get orders that all the horse and foot that can possibly be spared be sent'. (fn. 17) However, the 'forces from Worcester went towards Coughton House, but could not agree about their commands and so returned without doing anything'. (fn. 18) On 17 Jan. 1644 the Rebel garrison, hearing of the king's approach, quitted Coughton after setting fire to the house in three places. (fn. 19) The extent of the damage can be judged from a note on Sir Robert Throckmorton's case dated 21 Apr. 1648, which speaks of 'his house at Coughton made a garrison and the gate house dismantled and the house quite ruined, his estate given unto the Prince Elector'. Sir Robert died in 1650, and the sequestrated property was restored to the guardian of his infant son in 1651. (fn. 20) The house again suffered at the Revolution. Sir Robert Throckmorton, the 3rd baronet, had built a private chapel on the east side of the quadrangle and on 3 Dec. 1688, which came to be known as 'Running Thursday', this was attacked and is said to have been 'demolished' by a Protestant mob from Alcester. (fn. 21) Probably the damage amounted to little more than sacking the interior of the chapel; for the quadrangle is still shown as completely inclosed on the very fine estate map of 1746 now at Coughton Court, and there are numerous references to the eastern range having been taken down about 1780.
The gatehouse and its two flanking wings are built of ashlar, the former being of three stories, the latter of two. The lowest story is of a light-coloured stone, the upper stories of a different yellow stone. The walls have a double plinth; the parapets are embattled. At the angles of the gate-house are turrets. Up to the firstfloor story-course these turrets are square in plan, above this octagonal, and they are finished above the main roof with embattled parapets. There is little doubt that the square bases are earlier than the upper octagonal parts: they are probably all hollow, although there is no obvious means of access to some of them.
The main archway on the west front has moulded jambs and a four-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label. The spandrels are carved with shields of arms; the dexter bears Throckmorton quartering Spiney, impaling Vaux. The sinister shield has Throckmorton quartering Spiney, impaling the six quarters of the Berkeleys. (fn. 22) The archway on the east side is similar, but the inner order has moulded capitals. The shields in the spandrels are charged: dexter, Throckmorton impaling Olney and Bosom; sinister, Throckmorton quartering Spiney. Both fronts have three-sided bay-windows to the two upper stories, carried on moulded corbelling. The first-floor windows consist of three tiers of four-centred lights; on the second floor they are of two tiers. They are flanked by similar tall lights in the main walls and in each face of the western turrets. In the east elevation the turrets are more solid: the southern, which contains the stair-vice above the first floor, has three rectangular small lights in the upper part and a narrow loop in the ground floor: the northern, which is hollow, but entered only from the second floor, has a single small rectangular light immediately over the first-floor string-course. In the south side-wall of the third story is a three-light window of two tiers next to the south-west turret. This turret also has windows on the part above the roof, while the others are unpierced: there is a doorway on to the lead flat from the stair-vice.
On the face of the bay window in the east elevation below the first-floor window-sill is a panel with a weather-worn shield, possibly earlier than the Throckmorton period, bearing Spiney quartering a fesse engrailed between three wheat-sheaves; impaling ten crosslets, in chief, and three horse-shoes, in base. Higher up, below the second-floor window-sill, is another panel with a weather-worn shield of the Royal arms, in a Garter, with lion and greyhound supporters; over the shield are a portcullis and a rose. The west front has similar panels, but the Throckmorton arms formerly in the lower panel fell in 1916.
The wings of the gatehouse have east and west windows in each of the two stories, each of four similar lights under a square head. The outer angles on both fronts have solid projecting square turrets that rise above the parapets.
The remainder of the west elevation, which sets back on either side of the gatehouse, is of c. 1780 and is treated wholly with Roman cement. Its south portion is of two bays, the inner, which coincides with the west end of the long south range, being of two stories with modern windows. The outer, also of two stories and projecting slightly in front of the other, is the refaced end of the late-17th-century shorter parallel south range, with square-headed windows. Above the upper story is a tall attic story, blank except for five small quatrefoil piercings, now blocked. At the south-west angle is a cemented square turret.
The ground floor of the gatehouse is now used as the entrance hall of the house: the hall has a plastered ribbed vault; a four-centred doorway opens into the south-west angle-turret, once lighted by a west loop, now blocked. There appears to be no access to the other turrets on this floor. In the side walls are modern doorways to the wings. The south wing has a modern staircase from which a doorway opens into the tall second story of the gatehouse. The two west angleturrets are open to this room up to the ceiling, but there is no entrance to either of the east turrets. The windows in the west wall and turrets are blanks, only the east windows lighting the room. The chamber contains many ancient manuscripts and heirlooms.
In the south-east turret is a stair-vice to the third story: this chamber is lined with brick. In the north wall is a moulded stone fire-place, the spandrels carved with blank shields and foliage. East of it is the arched entrance to the closet in the north-east turret: this small chamber has two hiding holes, one below the other. The south-west turret closet has a four-centred doorway; that to the north-west turret is blocked. The square-headed stone doorway from the vice has an ancient door of moulded battens. Over the fire-place is a painted hunting scene of the time of Charles II on canvas set in a contemporary carved oak frame.
In the small north wing of the gatehouse is a chamber lined with late-17th-century panelling. In the south wing, which contains the modern staircase, some 16thcentury shields of arms in coloured glass have been reset in the east window, mostly, if not all, representing alliances with the children of Sir Robert Throckmorton, who died in 1570; they are named, and some dated, and include the arms of Tresham (1579), Arderne (1579), Sheldon (1579), Catesby (1578), Inglesfield, and Burdett, each of them impaling Throckmorton. Also Throckmorton (alone) and Throckmorton quartering Spiney impaling the Berkeley quarterings. (fn. 23)
The rooms behind the north front of the same period have nothing of note except a reset staircase in the back (east) part of the short 1835 wing. This is of the early to mid 17th century and rises from ground floor to second floor.
The north range is built of timber-framing; the south elevation, towards the courtyard, is of three stories, each upper story overhanging the lower on plastered coving. The lowest story is rough-cast; the second story shows mostly the original early-16th-century closeset studding, partly replaced with later more widely spaced studs. Some of the main broader posts have small chamfered pilasters, cut from the solid, on their faces. The pilasters divide the length into small bays, some of which probably had gable-heads before the existing attics and larger gables replaced them about 1600. The windows are almost all comparatively modern. The third story has a series of three large gables and at the east end a small gable of close studding, each with a small window. The plastered covings and the boarded bressummers to the overhangs are of the 18th or 19th century. The north side of the range also has a projecting upper story, but the whole wallface is cemented. A porch-wing and two other projections with hipped roofs and coved eaves are probably 18th-century or later additions. Two windows to the lower story near the westend, with moulded oak mullions and transoms, are of the 16th century, others are later.
The only interest inside the range is in the lowest story. The present kitchen, scullery, and store-room have early-16th-century moulded cross-beams in the ceilings with sloping mason's joints. The store-room also retains some of the original ceiling between the beams; this is of oak panelling divided by moulded ribs having bosses, carved with roses and foliage, where they intersect. Other beams in the larder and long south passage have had the mouldings cut back to a chamfer; no doubt the range originally had the panelled ceiling throughout, indicating that the rooms were of greater importance than they are now.
The south range is also of timber-framing in the upper part of its north front, towards the courtyard, of fairly close studding, but generally lighter timbers than in the north range. The side of the long hall in the east half of the range is widened by two projecting square bays. The wider bay, at the east end, has a pair of gable-heads to it, the western has a single gable-head, and the recess between the two bays, which contains the entrance to the hall, is coved out in order to carry another gable-head in the same plane; the upper story and the four gable-heads are all of plain timbering, probably of c. 1660. The western half of the elevation, which forms the side of the large dining-hall and its lobby or 'tribune', has a pair of larger gable-heads of c. 1600, each of plain close studding and with a small quatrefoil panel in the middle: they have barge-boards carved with pairs of beast-head scrolls repeated and at the apices are oak pinnacles and open-work pendants. The lower story is plastered. The entrance to the large hall may be old: it has moulded stone jambs and a four-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label. The spandrels are carved with shields charged 1. Throckmorton impaling Olney and 2. Throckmorton impaling Vaux. Above it is a range of quatrefoil panels. The south side of the range is rough-cast. The gabled east ends of both ranges are cemented, the repairs or refacing of c. 1780, and have plain chimney-stacks above them.
The walls of the short parallel wing against the west half of the south side of the south range are rough-cast. The head of the south wall had a pair of shaped gables with ball pedestals on the kneelers, but the northern has been practically destroyed. In the lower story are three late-17th-century stone windows each of two lights and with channelled mullion and transom. The lower story of the west half of the range, which may have comprised two rooms originally, is divided by comparatively modern partitions into pantry, storerooms, passages, &c.: the ceiling has a number of stopchamfered 17th-century beams. There was a wide fire-place, below that of the upper dining-hall, now blocked.
The large dining-hall on the first floor is about 40 ft. long and is lighted by the three tall windows in the west front and one in the north wall towards the courtyard. The chamber is lined with panelling of c. 1600 in five tiers of square panels. Those in the top range have diamond-shaped centres of raised mouldings and are divided by short detached turned shafts above a sill mould which breaks forward under the shafts to form moulded corbels with turned pendants under them. Above is an entablature carried all round the room. The frieze is divided by turned shafts into longer bays, elaborately carved with central medallions containing human heads, some in high relief, and scroll patterns incorporating monsters' heads and such-like figures. The six-panelled doors in the north, east, and south walls match the panelling and have channelled frames. In the south wall is the fire-place of coloured marbles, flanked by twin Ionic detached shafts of black with white capitals and bases. Above these the overmantel has twin Corinthian shafts, between which are a carved frieze-panel and three oak panels having diamond centres; on the face of the middle panel is applied a 17th-century carved scrolled cartouche with a painted shield of Throckmorton quartering Yate, (fn. 24) impaling Whorwood. The panelling at the east end of the room divides it from the 'tribune', which has similar panelling; the east screen, which separates it from the top of the stairs of the long east hall, has panelled pilasters dividing it into bays. The lobby has a flat plastered ceiling, but over the dining-hall the ceiling goes up partly into the roof-space and has four old tie-beams with modern mouldings and posts to the collar-beams. Two of them belong to original trusses which have upper collar-beams supported on queenposts. At the east end of the roof-space is seen the close studding of the gable-head, and through a gap below is visible, only an inch or two from it, the formerly external weather-worn and massive timbering of the gable end of the long hall. It appears to be smokeblackened on the east (internal) face. At the west end of the roof-space over the dining-hall are three trusses to the gabled roof that runs southwards from the gatehouse: the front (west) part of this roof was raised to a flatter pitch when the front was remodelled, either in 1780 or 1835. The long hall in the east half of the south wing is modernized internally, but at its west end is reset the late-16th-century staircase brought from Harvington Hall, Worcestershire. It is a double flight up to the first floor and has heavy turned balusters, newels with tall turned square finials, and moulded handrails. The east face of the screen, at the upper landing, which divides it from the 'tribune', differs in design from its panelled west face, and is consistent with a date 1660–80. It has four wide pilasters and three recessed bays, the middle bay containing the doors. Above is an entablature with a panelled and jewelled frieze, interrupted by scrolled open-work brackets. The ground floor of this screen, below this later treatment, is of similar panelling to that in the great chamber, altered slightly for the inserted staircase. In it is a late-17th-century door with bolectionmoulded panels.
The roofs generally are covered with tiles. Above the fire-place of the dining-hall is a late-16th-century chimney-stack of two square shafts of brick with Vshaped pilasters on their faces. The other chimneystacks are later.
The interior of the late-17th-century short south range has in the easternmost of its three ground-floor rooms a reset overmantel with early-17th-century carved panelling, and the door into the room from the north passage has late-17th-century eared panels.
An interesting relic preserved in the house is part of a dole-gate appertaining to Elizabeth Throckmorton, last Abbess of Denny. (fn. 25) It was discovered by Mr. Burrows, vicar of Ombersley, in a cottage in his neighbourhood. It is of three panels in width and two in height, the middle panels being each fitted with a pair of strap-hinges and having marks made by locks. They are inscribed:
The upper dexter panel is carved with a heart from which rises a triple branch on which are three crowns, and the sinister a similar heart and branch with a rose, portcullis, and fleur-de-lis. The lower dexter panel has a spray with three roses: the sinister panel is uncarved.
North-east of the house and originally separated from it by the moat is a detached building of T-shaped plan dating apparently from the early 16th century, probably built for lodgings rather than for offices or stables. The walls are of ashlar of Cotswold stone with a moulded plinth of a red stone and are repaired with brick under the eaves; the roofs are tiled. The building is of two stories and had windows in all the walls on both floors; they are generally stone-mullioned with four-centred lights under square main heads with moulded labels: some have been altered or blocked.
The south end-wall of the south wing, or stem of the T, has an arched and square-headed doorway in its east half with a label. East and west of it are two-light windows: the western has its sill on the plinth and over it are three defaced shields of arms. Over the entrance is a similar doorway which, it is said, communicated by a bridge over the moat with the vanished east range of the house. In the east side of the wing, near the corner, is a blocked doorway which apparently led to the staircase. The longer range, or head of the T, running east and west, has buttresses, probably later, at the east end. The gable-head is of closely studded timber-framing in three tiers.
Both stories are divided by old timber-framed partitions, probably not original, and there are stop-chamfered beams in the lower ceiling. Against the east side is a straight stair of stone: the bottom steps now wind from the interior but probably turned originally from the blocked doorway in the outer (east) wall. The upper story has open-timbered roofs and trusses with tie-beams and two collar-beams supported by queenposts and other posts: on each side are two purlins, the lower supported by wind-braces.
Coughton lies in the area which for generations was devoted to needle-making. (fn. 26) The work was carried on in almost every cottage, and up to some forty-five years ago the casual visitor might come upon it being smuggled out of sight as he entered, (fn. 27) but the trade is now entirely concentrated in factories elsewhere. A row of cottages on Icknield Street is still known as Bodkin Hall. At one time gloves were sent from Worcester to be sewn, (fn. 28) but now the only occupation is agriculture.
There is a station on the L.M.S. Railway line from Birmingham to Evesham (originally the EveshamRedditch Railway Co.) opened in June 1868. (fn. 29)
The manor of COUGHTON is practically coterminous with the parish, though a small area lies in Great Alne, south-west of Coughton. In 1086 Coughton was held of Turchil by William as 4 hides and included a mill. Untoni had held it in the time of King Edward. (fn. 30) The overlordship appears to have passed, with the rest of Turchil's Warwickshire possessions, to Henry de Newburgh or de Beaumont, the first Earl of Warwick, about 1090 (fn. 31) and descended with the earldom. (fn. 32) In 1316 the ½ knight's fee in Coughton was given to Alice widow of Guy, Earl of Warwick, in dower. (fn. 33) In 1472 the manor was held of the Duke of Clarence, who was created Earl of Warwick by reason of his wife's claim, (fn. 34) and in 1518 it was held of the king as of Warwick Castle, (fn. 35) the earldom being then in abeyance. (fn. 36) In 1547 John, Viscount Lisle, newly created Earl of Warwick, was given the liberties in Coughton formerly enjoyed by Richard, Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker. (fn. 37)
William, the Domesday tenant of Coughton, has been identified with William Fitz Corbucion (fn. 38) alias William de Studley (fn. 39) and he is believed to have given his lands in Coughton to Ranulf brother of Walter Abbot of Evesham, (fn. 40) which Ranulf already held Kinwarton and Weethley (q.v.) together with extensive lands in Worcestershire from the abbot. (fn. 42) Ranulf is presumed to have died in about 1129 and to have left two sons, William son of Ranulf and Robert son of Ranulf, who at Michaelmas 1130 paid relief for lands in Warwickshire. (fn. 43) Ranulf's lands, including Coughton, were evidently equally divided between his two sons, one being described as the knight of Coughton and the other as the knight of Kinwarton, who, with their descendants, shared equally the service of 2 knights due to the abbot of Evesham. (fn. 44)
The service of ½ knight due to the Earl of Warwick from the 4 hides in Coughton appears, however, to have devolved upon the 2 hides held by the Kinwarton branch of the family (fn. 45) (see below). Ranulf of Kinwarton (fn. 46) had a son Robert who predeceased him, having settled ⅓ of 2 hides in Coughton on his wife Joan. (fn. 47) In 1199 Joan and her next husband Richard de Brusle leased this land to Ranulf, Joan's former father-in-law, for his life. (fn. 48) Ranulf was presumably dead by 1214, when Alexander, another of his sons, (fn. 49) was sued for breaking the terms of this fine. (fn. 50) Alexander de Kinwarton about 1241 gave to the Abbot of Alcester a place to build a piggery in his wood of Coughton and also a load of firewood, weekly, from that same wood, (fn. 51) but in 1242–3 Simon de Bruly was holding ½ knight's fee in Coughton. (fn. 52) Simon was living in 1261, (fn. 53) but was dead in 1262, when Agnes his wife and Robert his son were holding land in Coughton. (fn. 54) In 1268 Robert was returned as holding the ½ fee in Coughton. (fn. 55) He was Regarder of Feckenham Forest in 1271. (fn. 56) In 1289 his hedges at Coughton were broken and his crops were depastured by Roger de Spineto of Coughton, Richard de Verdon of Wyke, and 12 others, on land where they claimed, wrongfully, to have common of pasture. (fn. 57) In 1292 Robert de Bruly is reported to be holding £20 a year in land in chief though still unknighted, (fn. 58) but he must have died soon after, for about this time Simon son of Robert de Broylly sold his manor of Coughton with all his rights and liberties there to William of Louth, Bishop of Ely. (fn. 59) After the bishop's death (fn. 60) this manor passed to Sir William Touchet, who immediately, in September 1298, granted it, with all the property formerly of Simon Broyli, to William de Spineto,* after which the two parts of the Coughton fee were reunited.
To return to the other half of the Coughton lands of Ranulf; it is thought that the descendants of William his son, the knight of Coughton, (fn. 61) were Robert and William de Coctuna, who were living between 1151 and 1158, Robert dying without issue. (fn. 62) William's sons were Ranulf and Simon, but the Coughton lands are thought to have descended to Ranulf, who was one of the knights of the Abbot of Evesham in 1166, (fn. 63) and was living in 1184. (fn. 64) His heir was apparently that Simon son of Ranulf de Cocton who was con temporary with Ranulf of Kinwarton (see above). (fn. 65) Simon, who died at Alcester through falling off his horse when drunk, (fn. 66) had been succeeded by 1220 by his son Simon, (fn. 67) probably the same Simon who about 1241 gave to the monks of Alcester a place for a piggery and a load of firewood weekly in his wood of Coughton. (fn. 68) Simon married Constance daughter of William de Parco before 1226, (fn. 69) but was dead by 1274, when his widow is mentioned, and also their daughter Constance, who had married John son of Master John de Billesle. (fn. 70) Simon and Constance had other daughters. (fn. 71) One, whose name was Joan, is said to have been twice married: (fn. 72) first to Hugh de Burleye, with whom she joined in 1257 in enfeoffing William de Spineto of a half virgate in Coughton, (fn. 73) and subsequently to Hugh de Norfolk, who joined with her in 1274 in a further grant to William de Spyney (this time with Joan his wife) of land in Samborne and Coughton, together with the reversion of the third part thereof held by Constance widow of Simon de Cocton in dower. (fn. 74)
Very shortly after this a dispute between William de Spineto and Joan and the Prior of Studley concerning tithes and some matter of violence was settled before the Bishop of Worcester in 1275 and some unspecified sentence upon them was released. (fn. 75) Whether from the same sentence or not, the archdeacon was ordered to pronounce the absolution of William in 1279, (fn. 76) and again in 1284, when the sheriff was told to release him from prison. (fn. 77) This later trouble may have had a financial basis, as Roger the clerk, William's son, gave bond for repayment of a debt due to the executors of the late Archbishop of York, the bishop's brother. (fn. 78) Probably in fulfilment of this bond Roger gave to the Bishop of Worcester 1 messuage and 3 carucates of land in Coughton. (fn. 79) The bishop surrendered it to the king, who returned it to him, to hold of the chief lords of the see, (fn. 80) and in October 1293 the bishop granted to William son of William de Spineto the manor of Coughton near Spernall. (fn. 81) Subsequently (see above), the Bruly manor of Coughton was acquired by William de Spineto in September 1298,* and in March 1299 he settled on himself and Margery his wife the manor of Coughton, with all its rights and property there and in Wike (see below) 'as well within the liberties of the Templars (fn. 82) as without'.* In 1300 William 'of Spinney' was said to hold that part of the vill of Coughton with its wood and plain which was 'on the side of the river Arrow towards the west', (fn. 83) and in 1315 he was holding Coughton as ½ knight's fee of Guy, Earl of Warwick. (fn. 84) He died before the end of 1316, (fn. 85) having enfeoffed William de Sutton of Warwick of the manor.* In 1318 the manor was settled on William Sutton and his wife Margery for their lives, with remainders to William son of William 'del Espine' and his issue, or Joan his sister, Alice her sister, or his right heirs, (fn. 86) and William de Sutton is referred to as lord of Coughton in 1320. (fn. 87) It is possible that William de Sutton had married the widowed Margery de Spineto and obtained the guardianship of her son and his estate. He heads the list for the Lay Subsidy in 1332 (fn. 88) and was still lord of Coughton in September 1338,* though in June of that year William 'del Espinee', who had married one Alice at least twelve years before, was already called lord and in 1341 was holding his court there.* He must at one time have settled away the manor, as on 1 March 1354 Thomas Paynel of Berkshire released to Sir Thomas de Grendone his co-parcener, all his rights in the manor, with plough-land, tenants free and neif, rents, mills, dove-cotes, waters, fisheries, &c.* Sixteen years later Thomas de la Louwe, Ralph Biron, chaplain, and Richard de Aston conveyed the manor to William de Spineto and Alice his wife for life, all except the two mills which, with the reversion of the manor and a yearly rent of 13 marks till that should fall in, went to Guy their son and Katherine his wife.* In June 1398 Sir Guy Spyne was lord of Coughton,* but in 1411 he and Katherine made two enfeoffments to Edmund and Roger Lowe, in each case of half the manor. (fn. 89) The couple had no son; their two daughters had married, Alice, William Tracy, and Eleanor, John son of Thomas Throckmorton of Fladbury, Worcs. (fn. 90) Next year, in June 1412, Edmund and Roger settled the whole manor on Guy and Katherine for life, with remainder as to one moiety to John Throckmorton and Eleanor and their issue (reserving to Roger the ancient services due from the property called Verdounes), (fn. 91) the other moiety to William Tracy and Alice and their issue.* In March 1430 the Prior of Studley leased to John and Eleanor extensive lands in Coughton, including Canneclose,* now Cane Close; most of this was quit claimed to them by the next prior three years later.* On 1 April 1438 John and Eleanor were admitted into the fellowship of the Abbey of Evesham. (fn. 92) In May 1449 Eleanor, now a widow, and Thomas her son granted some of their property in Worcestershire to John Tracy, son of Alice, on condition that he left Thomas in undisturbed possession of both moieties of Coughton.* John Tracy enfeoffed Thomas Throckmorton in the Tracy half of the manor (fn. 93) so that when Thomas died in July 1472 he held the whole manor of Coughton. (fn. 94) His son Robert in 1496 received property in Coughton and Sambourne by grant of the Abbot of Evesham in exchange for property elsewhere, (fn. 95) and died in August 1518 on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, holding Coughton. (fn. 96) His son Sir George was Steward to the Prior and Canons of Studley—a position which did not prevent him from becoming a Commissioner for the County at the Reformation—and at the Dissolution they demised to him all their property in Coughton, some of which was already in his tenure, as well as tithes there and at Sambourne. (fn. 97) Sir George died in 1552 seised of Coughton and other manors. (fn. 98)
The property descended in the family, (fn. 99) but early in the reign of Charles I some doubt arose as to manorial rights. Robert Throckmorton (great-great-grandson of Sir George) petitioned the king in June 1629, declaring that he and his ancestors had been seised of Oversley, Sambourne, and other manors with court-leet, view of frankpledge, profits of leets, free warren, waifs and strays, but that not all these rights extended to Coughton and Spernall. (fn. 100) He therefore asked that for the better management of those places he might have the same privileges confirmed throughout his property. The officials to whom the matter was referred consulted the 'original grants in old charters' and on their advice he had confirmation in December 1630 of court-leet and view of frankpledge in all manors twice yearly, viz. in the month after Easter and the month after Michaelmas, with goods of felons, assize and assay of bread and ale, and trial of weights and measures, but not outlaws' goods or fines unless these were restrained to his own courts. (fn. 101) By Letters Patent of 17 May 1631 deodands, suicides', and outlaws' goods were expressly reserved to the Crown. An undated but apparently contemporary note at Coughton Court says that the estates of Robert Throckmorton included 'the ancient manor house of Coughton with all houses of office answerable, in good repair, worth yearly £378 13s. 4d., viz. the demesne with mill £228 13s. 4d., tenements, rents, and services £90, tithes £60; also woods, fishings, (fn. 102) and the donation of the vicarage; court baron with perquisites; a park enclosed with pales, which with some other small parcels of demesne is in lease for fourteen years; a sufficient lodge therein to dwell in and a lesser lodge; the reprises very small'. (fn. 103) The property of Sir Robert Throckmorton, who was created a baronet on 1 Sept. 1643, (fn. 104) was sequestrated during the Civil War but later restored. Coughton has since been included in various settlements, but it remained in the family until 18 Sept. 1934, when the bulk of the land was sold to the Crown; the present Sir Robert Throckmorton remains lord of the manor and has kept the house, grounds, and village.
Land known as WIKE appears to have been a subinfeudation of the fee of Coughton. (fn. 105) Five shillings rent there was held in 1262 of Robert de Bruly, (fn. 106) of whose fee property there was acquired by Studley Priory.* Robert had a mill there* and his son Simon in about 1293 included his rights in Wike in his sale of the manor of Coughton to the Bishop of Ely.*
William de Parco settled ½ hide in Wike on his daughter Constance on her marriage with Sir Simon de Cocton. (fn. 107) In 1222 Constance and Simon enfeoffed Robert de Verdun, her step-brother, (fn. 108) of one virgate of this land, and he released his claim to the rest of it. (fn. 109) Robert de Verdun was a member of that branch of the Cocton family that subsequently took their name from their manor of Wrottesley, co. Staffs. (fn. 110) In 1226 William de Wrottesley quitclaimed to Simon de Cocton and Constance and her heirs all his right in ¼ hide in La Wyke. (fn. 111) This Simon gave to John de la More, in free marriage with Cecily his daughter, all William de Parco's land in Wike.* Constance, after Simon's death, gave all her marriage portion in La Wyke 'as inclosed by hedges, dikes and bounds' to the priory of Studley; (fn. 112) and Robert de Bruli, as overlord, gave to the priory the services which John de la More, Cecily his wife, and Constance widow of Sir Simon de Cocton used to pay to him and his ancestors for the property that they held of his fee in La Wyke in Coughton.* Of the portion of Cecily and John de la More nothing certain is known, but Geoffrey de la More, lord of La Morhalle or Morehall in Wixford (q.v.), received services and heriot in Coughton in 1327.* The priory of Studley, however, in 1340 transferred to the Peyto family all the land received from Constance de Cocton, and in 1358 William de Peto granted it, as 'the manor' of Wike in the town and fee of Coughton, to Nicholas de Lichfield, clerk, and his heirs, (fn. 113) but no more is known of the descent of this property.
There were other manorial rights in Coughton than those of the families mentioned above. By deeds of the late 13th century Adam de Wytton, Prior of Studley, granted to Robert le Ferur of Coughton (fn. 114) messuages and lands in Coughton, including part of the virgate belonging to the church, to hold by a rent of 2s. 2d. and suit at 'our court' twice a year, while Robert granted to the priory all the property in Coughton which he had recovered against Constance widow of Sir Simon de Coctone, they to render yearly to the chief lord 2s. and four horse-shoes as he and his ancestors used to do.* A little later William, 'called Prior of Studley', sold to John del Hock of Coughton the property which Dame Constance once held of the priory, for 30s. down, rendering yearly 4s. and four bronze horse-shoes for all services except suit at 'our court' twice yearly.* John in turn conveyed to William his son, to hold of the prior and convent as chief lords of the fee.* In April 1301 Constance le Ferur of Coughton conveyed to Pernel her daughter property in Coughton given to her by Henry her brother, to hold of Henry le Ferur as chief lord of the fee, the deed bearing horse-shoes on the seal.* In addition, the Botelers of Oversley, later of Wem, held certain rights as late as 1379,* though Ralph of that family had given part of his demesne to Alcester Priory at its foundation, c. 1140.* The lords of 'Evenefeld' claimed suits of court and other dues in Wike,* and Robert and Randolph de Castro or Castello (fn. 115) held courts and received dues in Coughton in the 13th century.*
There was a mill at Coughton, worth 32d. in 1086. (fn. 116) An isolated reference to two mills here occurs in 1370.* Coughton Mill, which stood by the Arrow, south-east of the Court, was pulled down within living memory and traces of it can still be seen. The second mill may have been Sambourne Mill, which stood on the boundary between Sambourne and Coughton, or possibly that referred to in 1293 as formerly in the possession of Robert de Bruyly in Wike. (fn. 117)
The whole building is of the 15th century and early 16th century and is reputed to have been the work of Sir Robert Throckmorton, who died in 1518, but it is obviously not all of one period. The lower stage of the tower appears to be the earliest part of the fabric and, with a nave on the same lines as the present nave, stood probably before Sir Robert's time. The north and south aisles followed, the south probably first; the west walls of both abut the earlier angles of the nave. The chancel and the two chapels were the final main additions to the plan and seem to have been in course of construction at Sir Robert's death in 1518, as the glazing of the east windows was mentioned in his will. The stair turret in the north wall, for the rood loft, was a subsequent erection, and the south porch was added in the 18th century. The top stage of the tower, built of different stone, may be as late as the early 17th century.
A board in the tower records that the church was re-roofed and repaired in 1829–30 at a cost of £944, and another states that 'this gallery' (now removed) was built in 1829. The tower arch was opened out in 1890, and stonework was renovated in 1897. Electric lighting was first used in 1929 and the chancel roof was restored in 1938.
The chancel (33½ ft. by 19½ ft.) has an east window of five cinquefoiled lights and vertical tracery under a three-centred head: the mullions are moulded and the external jambs and arch have a wide hollow. The arcades to both north and south chapels are of two bays. The piers have hollow chamfers between four half-round shafts with moulded capitals, but no visible bases, and the responds have a half-round shaft between two hollows, and wave-moulded angles: the arches are two-centred and of two wave-moulded orders with a three-quarter hollow between them. The chancel arch is of similar detail; all of a white limestone.
The north chapel (27¼ ft. by 13 ft.) has a squareheaded east window of four plain four-centred lights: the two windows in the north wall are each of three four-centred lights and plain vertical tracery. West of them a blocked priests' doorway, with moulded jambs, head and label, retains, outside, the original oak door of linenfold panelling, now much decayed. West of this is the semi-octagonal rood-stair turret of red brick with stone angle-dressings; it is entered from the chapel by a plain four-centred doorway containing the original oak door of four moulded feather-battens. The upper doorway is blocked: there are square-headed piercings in both the arcade walls at the same level. The western arch is similar to the chancel arch. The south chapel (24 ft. by 11¼ ft.) has similar east and south windows, and moulded priests' doorway: this has an ancient battened door with applied ribs, strap-hinges, and an iron draw-bar inside. The western arch is like the others.
The walls of the chancel and chapels are of ashlar: they have a moulded plinth and a string-course below the windows, and the chancel has a low-pitched gable. At the angles are diagonal buttresses, but the stringcourse is not carried round them. Above the two squareheaded windows of the chapels are segmental relieving arches. The side-walls of the chapels have square buttresses. The roofs are covered with lead. Their timbers appear to be all modern (1829–30). The east end of the chancel is paved with rather worn 15-in. black and white squares set diagonally, of late-17thcentury date.
The nave (40 ft. by 18¼ ft.) has north and south walls, 2 ft. 10 in. thick, with arcades of three bays: they have piers made up of four hollow-chamfered pilasters with simply moulded capitals and bases; the same hollow orders are continued in the four-centred arches. Comparing these arcades with those of the chancel and chapels, they appear to be of later detail, but the fact that the west arches of the chapels are coeval with the chancel seems to prove that they were made to open into pre-existing nave-aisles. Above the arcades is a clearstory of four windows in each wall: they are of three cinquefoiled lights under square heads with external labels.
The north aisle (12 ft. wide) has two north and one west window, each of three cinquefoiled pointed lights and tall vertical tracery in a four-centred head with an external label. The jambs and arches are moulded (with wide hollows) inside and out: the arches are composed of four stones only, with straight extradoses. The mullions and tracery have been restored. The blocked doorway, west of the second north window, has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with a label: the spandrels are carved, the dexter with a human head, the sinister with foliage: an ancient plain door is still in place. The walls show ashlar facing inside and out, but the north wall is very thinly plastered inside: there is a diagonal buttress to the west angle and two intermediate buttresses.
The south aisle (9 ft. wide) has two south and a west window, each of three trefoiled lights and vertical tracery differing from the north windows: the arches are mostly straight-sided and the jambs have plain splays inside and out: the openings are also narrower than those in the north aisle. The south doorway has hollow-chamfered jambs and a four-centred arch; west of it and very close to the west wall are traces of another doorway now blocked with brick, perhaps a later insertion for a gallery. The walls of the aisle are of rubble with a moulded plinth, and buttresses as to the north aisle. The west wall meets the angle of the nave with a straight joint, and the plinth stops just short of it.
The west tower (about 11 ft. by 9 ft. inside) is of two stages externally, divided by a string-course below the bell-chamber. The walls are of ashlar, the lower stage in a white stone, the upper of a darker sandstone. The double plinth is moulded and the parapet is embattled: above the angles are square pinnacles of the 17th or 18th century with pointed heads. At the west angles are small diagonal buttresses to the lower stage, and square buttresses at the east angles project north and south. In the north-west angle is a stair-vice splayed across the angle but not projecting outside: it is entered by an internal doorway in the west wall and lighted by a loop. The archway from the nave has large splays to the jambs continued in the two-centred head. The west doorway has jambs with a hollow in a chamfer, and a four-centred head, with a relieving arch over it: the rear-arch is three-centred. The original oak doors are two four-panelled leaves with moulded styles and rails outside, and chamfered square framing inside. The window above is of three trefoiled lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head: the jambs are plain splays like those in the south aisle. Higher up, just below the string-course, is a small rectangular light of the darker brown stone. The bell-chamber has in each wall a square-headed window of two trefoiled lights: there are relieving arches above them but no labels.
In the windows is preserved a fair amount of the original early-16th-century glass. In his will of 1518 Sir Robert Throckmorton desired the east window to be glazed with the story of the Doom, the east window of the north chapel with the seven Sacraments, and that of the south chapel with the seven Works of Mercy. Fragments of these appear to be scattered amongst the jumbled glass in some of the aisle windows.
The following is the glass still existing: (fn. 118)
East window of chancel: in the middle lights are three Sibyls with modern heads: the middle one, bearing the legend 'Sibylla Persica', wears an enriched blue gown and a purple cloak with a green lining: in her left hand she holds a lantern. The northern, 'Sybilla Europa', has a green gown and red mantle and holds a sword upright in her left hand. The southern, 'Sybilla Samia', has a green gown and blue and red mantle: she holds what is presumably her usual emblem, a cradle. These figures are said to have been (before 1825) in the north-east window of the north chapel, bearing the date 1530. The remainder of the lights is of white glass with some reset coloured pieces in the borders, except the cinquefoiled heads, in which are reset fragments of tabernacle work, and small cherubs, crowned heads, and the head of a soldier with a helmet; the southernmost includes a panel with the black-letter inscription: 'Nassetur puer de paupercula . . . et bestie terre adorabunt eum.' The ten piercings of the tracery also contain coloured subjects, mostly heraldic and probably much of it in situ. The northernmost has a shield in a scrolled surround, charged with the arms of Spiney. The fourth has a large crowned Tudor rose and foliage in a shield and below it the initial H; in the fifth is a shield with the Royal arms, France modern quartering England, in a wreath, surrounded by a bush with red roses and below it a cartouche with the initials Rh: the sixth has a shield in a blue wreath charged with the arms of Castile and Leon quartering Aragon (the first quarter now a jumble): a plant with pomegranates about it, and above it a crown: below is half of a similar cartouche with the initial K: the seventh has a crowned pomegranate and plant: the eighth has a crowned castle and pomegranate plant: the ninth is fragmentary and includes a cherub with green wings and a part of a halo inscribed 'Sibilla per . . .' in roman capitals.
In the heads of the lights of the east window of the north chapel are architectural canopy-heads with grotesque figures, including a satyr seated on a red bull, putti with staves, &c. The east window of the south chapel has only some architectural fragments.
The tracery lights of the four side windows of the two chapels contain the twelve apostles and four evangelists. Each of the apostles has (or had) a scroll about his nimbed head in which is a portion of the apostles' creed in black letter. The series begins in the western north window with SS. Peter, Andrew, James, and John and continues in the eastern window with SS. Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew. All are named except St. Thomas and are in white glass set in a good blue background. St. Peter holds a book and key and his scroll is inscribed: Credo in deum . . . patrem o[mn]ipotentem creato . . . celi et terre. St. Andrew holds his cross and has the words: Et in Jesum Christum filium ei' un[icum] dom[inum] nost[rum] and the others carry their symbols and have further clauses of the Credo. The end piercings of the six in each windowhead have the Spiney crest of an elephant's head (now partly or wholly destroyed) and a shield with the Spiney arms. The other four apostles in the eastern window of the south wall of the south chapel are less well preserved. The first, St. James the Less, holds a club and has a scroll with: S'ctam ecclesiam Catholica' s'ctor' communion: the next, St. Simon, has the head missing: he holds a book and a saw, and on the scroll is: Remissionem peccatorum: the third, which should be St. Jude, is now mixed fragments: only the scroll remains in place and part of this is reversed: it reads: Carnis resurrectionem: the fourth, probably St. Matthias, is fragmentary. The two heraldic piercings are now only patchwork.
The western window has three of the four evangelists with their names and symbols: St. John is missing. St. Mark, in the second piercing from the east, holds a book and has a lion at his foot. St. Luke holds a pen and a tablet on which are the Virgin and Child: at the foot are the remains of wings. St. Matthew, in the fourth piercing, holds in his left hand a scroll: a small angel is at his feet.
The second window from the east in the north aisle has made-up fragments in its six tracery lights, including architectural pieces, scraps of black-letter inscriptions, and foliage. There are also some ancient white quarries. The west window of the aisle also has made-up fragments in its tracery lights, including a shrouded nude figure rising, another in flames, another shrouded skeleton, evidently parts of the Doom from the east window. There is also a small figure of a man with long hair, a blue coat with yellow lapels of fur, and hands in prayer—probably a donor. Some of the white quarries are ancient: one has a symmetrical foliage pattern. In the middle light of the eastern window of the south aisle is a jumble of architectural fragments and over them a weather-worn roundel with the head of the Virgin, crowned and with a radiant halo. In the western south window is a similar roundel in the middle light with a crowned head and the top of a sceptre. In the tracery head and foils are brown or begrimed roses, &c. In the west window of the south aisle are three heads of canopied niches richly bejewelled in red, blue, and yellow.
The font dates from the 13th century. The bowl was originally square with a hollowed lower edge, but it has since been cut to form an octagon and has had a cross incised on each of the four cardinal faces, one being partly carved on the patching where existed the former staple for the lid. The stem was cylindrical with four attached shafts, but it has disappeared and only the moulded capitals and bases remain in place, one resting on the other, with the square abacus and sub-base. The main base is chamfered and splayed at the angles. Having been dwarfed by the removal of the stem, the font has been placed on a later sub-base with steps.
Some of the original woodwork exists, mostly worked into modern furniture. The reredos was constructed in 1897, to include four linen-folds, 2½ ft. high and 7 in. wide, and three others 13 in. wide, said to have belonged to the early-16th-century rood-screen. The pulpit, made in 1891, incorporates five traceried heads of panels and five linen-fold panels. In the quire-seats are some traceried heads of early-16th-century panelling in the front desks—twelve bays of varying widths; they are thickly painted and some may be modern copies. There are also linen-fold panels in the backs of the seats, all painted. In the two priests' desks the backs of the seats have linen-fold of a different pattern, 12 in. wide. Some of the standards are also ancient: two to the priests' desks are reeded or fluted on the fronts and have pointed or tapering pinnacles with moulded finials. Two to the priests' seats are of more usual form with pinnacles, each carved with a pair of bearded and cowled apostles back to back and with hands in prayer: the southern is mutilated: the faces of the standards are also diapered with roses and foliage. Two of the standards to the back seats are carved with diaper and have rose terminals.
Included in the seating of the nave and aisles are some early-16th-century benches and desks. The back seats of the nave and aisles and the front desks of the aisles have standards like those to the priests' desks. Twelve seats in the north aisle and eight in the south have panelled and buttressed standards with horizontal moulded cappings.
The two west screens of the chapels are largely of early-16th-century detail. They have moulded muntins and rails and middle doorways with triangular heads carved with roses and foliage. The side bays have open traceried heads and closed tracery below the middle rails.
In the chancel is a chest of c. 1600, of hutch type, having three strap-hinges and other ironwork, with fleur-de-lis ends: one lock. Another small chest in the north chapel is of the 18th century. In the south chapel is a cupboard, 3 ft. wide by 1 ft. 1 in. high and 7 in. deep, with an open balustraded front and pair of middle gates 8 in. wide (each leaf): on the top a row of turned pegs or pinnacles; probably made for the bread-dole bequeathed by William Dewes in 1717.
The five principal funeral monuments (fn. 119) in the church are to members of the Throckmorton family.
In the middle of the nave is the altar tomb intended for the Sir Robert who rebuilt the church and died in Palestine in 1518. It has a grey marble slab bearing a marginal inscription to him; the sides have quatrefoil panels with blank shields in marble. The tomb remained empty until it was used for Sir Robert, 4th baronet, who died in 1791 aged 90. On the slab is also an inscription to Sir John, who died in 1819 aged 66, and on the north side is an affixed tablet to his wife Lady Mary (Giffard) who died 1821 aged 59.
Under the eastern arch on the north side of the chancel is a large altar-tomb, 9 ft. long, to Sir George (who died in 1552) and Dame Katherine his wife. It is of grey marble with cusped panelled sides containing brass shields, and a moulded top slab in which are their brass effigies. He is represented in armour and she wears a pedimental head-dress, a loose mantle, and belted skirt. Below are the figures of eight sons and eleven daughters, and there are four shields of arms, charged (1) with Throckmorton impaling Vaux, (2) Throckmorton, (3) Throckmorton impaling Abberbury, and (4) quarterly (1) Throckmorton, (2) Abberbury, (3) Spiney, (4) Bosom. Some of the shields on the sides of the base are missing: two remain and are coloured. One on the south side is charged with the quarterly Throckmorton coat. The other on the north side is also quarterly but has Throckmorton in the 4th quarter instead of the first. In the marginal inscription the dates of their deaths were never filled in and the inscription does not cross the east end.
Under the eastern arch of the south arcade is another altar-tomb to the next holder of the title, Sir Robert, who died 1570, though the date is not filled in on the tomb. It is of alabaster and various marbles: the sides are divided in three bays by grey marble pilasters, the bays containing elaborately framed alabaster panels: the middle on either side has an inscription, the other shields of arms. The east and west ends have shields charged with Throckmorton and six other quarters. The north and south sides have each a shield with the same coat impaling Berkeley and five other quarters and another with the same coat impaling Hussey. (fn. 120) The top has a plain grey marble slab. The commemorative inscription is on the south side; on the north side are sixteen lines of Latin verse and on the frieze around the sides is a pious Latin inscription.
At the east end, south of the high altar, is a large canopied monument to Sir John, youngest brother of the last, Master of the Court of Requests under Queen Mary, Justice of Chester, and a member of the Council of the Marches of Wales, who died 1580. It is almost wholly of alabaster and has a panelled base with a moulded plinth and capping, on which are the recumbent effigies of Sir John in his lawyer's robes and his wife Margery (daughter of Robert Puttenham) in a widow's hood and full, pleated dress, on his left. The canopy is supported by six alabaster fluted Corinthian shafts with white marble capitals and bases, carried on panelled pedestals which are incorporated with the base. The canopy forms an entablature on its two exposed faces (north and west), with a carved frieze, and has a coffered soffit. Above it is a kind of sarcophagus with panelled sides flanked and divided by pilasters carved with terminal figures—two bays to the north and one to the west—carrying an entablature. In the west bay is an achievement of the Throckmorton arms with six other quarters: in the western north bay a shield with the same charges and in the eastern the same impaling Puttenham. In the west panel of the base are carved the kneeling figures of five sons, the eldest in a gown, the second in armour, the third a child, the fourth and fifth with swords. In the two north panels are four daughters, the youngest a swathed infant. Above the north-west corner of the top of the monument is a crest of an elephant's head. The inscription for the monument is in black letter on a brass plate affixed to the wall west of the monument (fn. 121) and it is noteworthy, considering the date, that on a separate strip are the words: 'On whose soules God take mercy.' (fn. 122) Above it is another plate with an achievement of the Throckmorton arms in colour: the crest is a falcon, with a sable crescent for difference.
North of the high altar is an altar-tomb to Sir Robert, 8th baronet, who died 28 June 1862, and his wife Elizabeth (Acton), died 1850. The remains of Elizabeth, the sister of the builder of the church and last Abbess of Denny, were buried here with those of two other nuns, and were discovered when the present tomb was made. The brass inscription plate is re-fixed on the west end of this tomb and runs as follows: 'Of your charite pray for the soule of Dame Elizabeth Throkmerton the last Abbas of Denye and aunte to Syr George Throkmerton Knyght who decessyd the XIII day of Januarye in the yere of our lord god ANo. mcccccxlvii who lyeth here tumulate in thys tombe on whous soule and all chryssten soules Jhesu have m[er]cy. Amē.
Other monuments in the church include the graveslabs of Sir Robert Throckmorton (the 1st baronet), 1651, and Dame Anne widow of the 3rd baronet, both in the chancel, and some 17th- and 18th-century memorials to members of the Dewes family of Coughton and Alcester.
There are six bells, all bearing the date 1686, by Mathew and Henry Bagley. (fn. 123)
The parish registers begin in 1673. (fn. 124) There is a book showing payments for the glebe, with some personal notes by the vicar, 1785–1813; and a volume comprising the Poor Book and notes of burials, 1728–1803, is (1942) in the possession of Mr. L. Parkes, the postmaster.
The advowson of Coughton was included in the original endowment of Studley Priory at its foundation by Peter Corbucion in the 12th century. (fn. 125) It was quitclaimed by Simon son of Simon de Coucton at Michaelmas, 1221, (fn. 126) and Peter's original grant was confirmed in 1328. (fn. 127) The farm of the rectory is given in 1535 as £14 16s. per annum, with £10 for the vicar's stipend. (fn. 128) At the Dissolution the church passed to Sir George Throckmorton, steward of the priory, by demise of the prior and subsequent Letters Patent of the king (vide supra). Sir Christopher Hatton had a grant of the tithes, profits, and advowson in 1576, (fn. 129) but later they returned to the Throckmorton family (fn. 130) and remained with them till 1917, when the advowson was made over to the bishop of the diocese. (fn. 131) It was customary to effect a nominal sale of each presentation so that it might not be officially made by a Roman Catholic. At one time the living was held jointly with the mastership of the school (vide infra).
The Compton Census of 1676 gives 331 'Conformists' in Coughton as against no 'Nonconformists' and 67 'Papists'. (fn. 132) The proportion of 'Papists' is, as might be expected, considerably higher than in most of the neighbouring parishes, and in Charles II's time the Roman Catholic community here was served by Jesuits of the 'Residence of St. George', which included Warwickshire and Worcestershire. (fn. 133)
In accordance with the Declaration of Indulgence of 1672 the house of Oliver Bransell of Coughton was licensed as a Presbyterian place of worship; (fn. 134) but there has never been a Nonconformist chapel in the village.
Sir Robert Throckmorton, who died on pilgrimage in Palestine in 1518, left certain property to trustees for appointing a priest who among other duties was to teach freely in a grammar school for the children of the testator's tenants; but there is no record that this bequest was ever carried out. In April 1709 an agreement was drawn up for the foundation of a free school by the subscriptions of charitable persons. The master was to 'instruct the children in the principles of Christian religion and breed them up in the nurture and fear of the Lord, also to teach them to read, write and cast arithmetical accounts in order to qualify them for trades and public employments'. The funds supplied, however, were not enough for a satisfactory endowment; so Sir Robert Throckmorton, who had been active in its foundation, gave £25 a year to augment the vicarage on condition that the vicar taught in the school, and that special preference was given to children of tenants. As in the late 17th and early 18th century the living of Coughton was sometimes held in plurality with that of Studley, both being very small, this triangular arrangement was a fruitful source of trouble over appointments and duties.*
There is now a Church elementary school in the village. Some time in the last century there was also a Roman Catholic school in Coughton Lane, but this ceased to exist about 1900. (fn. 135) There is a drawing of the building made in November 1858.* It is now converted into two cottages called School Cottages.
William Dewes, by will dated 1 June 1715, bequeathed £50, the interest to be applied in providing bread for the poor. (fn. 136) The legacy was secured by a rent-charge of £2 10s. now issuing out of Long Marston Manor Farm and applied to the poor in kind.
John Smith, by will dated in 1768, gave £100, one shilling of the interest to be laid out in bread, the remainder to be disposed of to the poor. The endowment now consists of £750 9s. 11d. India 3-per-cent. stock producing £22 10s. 4d. annually in dividends, which are applied for the benefit of the poor.
William Wheeler's Charity, founded by deed poll dated 4 June 1534. By a decree of 20 Nov. 1630 the rents and profits of lands known as the Church and Poor Land were to be employed towards the reparations of the parish church and the relief of the poor. The lands were sold in 1934, and dividends, amounting to £10 annually, are applied in the relief of the poor and to repairs of the church.
Sir Charles Throckmorton, by will proved 10 Feb. 1841, gave a sum of stock sufficient to produce £10 yearly in trust that the vicar and Catholic priest of the parish should apply the said sum for relief of the poor of Coughton, Sambourne, and Middletown. One moiety of the income is paid to the Roman Catholic priest and the remaining moiety is applied to the relief of the poor.