A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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Sambourne forms part of the ecclesiastical parish of Coughton, though it has been a separate civil parish at least since the 17th century. (fn. 1) It is divided from Coughton by Cane Brook, and the Ryknield Street, here known as Haydon Way, crosses the parish from north to south. The village itself, about 1½ miles northwest of Coughton, is centred round a small triangular green at the junction of four roads and contains several timber-framed buildings of 17th-century date. The Green Dragon Inn, a modern brick house, has a lower east extension of 17th-century timber-framing, and a tiled roof. A thatched cottage next east of it also has framing, of c. 1600. North-west of the Green are four other framed cottages of which only the northernmost retains its timber front; and a modern cottage east of the Green has a timber-framed outbuilding.
There are also several outlying farms of some antiquity; the oldest, Oak Farm, about a mile north of the village, is of three periods. The original plan of T-shape is built of fairly close-set studding, now mostly plastered, and has one bay of the original roof of about 1550 with wind-braced purlins. The bottom of the T, the west end, has a cross-wing of square framing, added about 1600: this also is plastered externally, but wide fire-places, chamfered ceiling beams, and wall framing show inside. The head of the T was lengthened another bay to the south late in the 17th century and afterwards was refronted with red brick. The farm buildings are also all of 17th-century framing. Sambourne Hall is a mid- to late-17th-century building of square timberframing, now mostly covered with rough-cast cement. It is of a modified T-shaped plan: the longer range (the stem of the T) has an ancient rectangular chimneystack with square pilasters, and a wide fireplace.
Truslove's, a small farm-house, now two tenements, a little to the north-west of the Hall, is the conjectural site of the ancient Samborne chapel, but of this there are no visible remains. The south part of the house has two early-16th-century moulded ceiling-beams to the lower story, with moulded curved brackets or braces under the ends, springing from reeded corbels. They divide the length from east to west into three bays. The upper story has a contemporary roof with curved wind-braces to the purlins. The staircase has early-17th-century turned balusters. The remainder of the house is obviously a later enlargement. A barn is of early-17th-century framing with red-brick infilling.
The hamlet of Middletown, between Sambourne Village and Studley, includes five cottages and a barn, all with 17th-century timber-framing, some much altered, others fairly complete. The roofs are tiled, but some were formerly thatched.
Sambourne Warren, a farm-house about ¾ miles west of the Green, is built of 17th-century framing with plastered infilling and a tiled roof, and has a modern brick wing. Two barns, joined endwise, and other farm buildings are also of framing.
Sambourne was one of the earliest centres of the local needle industry, (fn. 2) and glove-sewing was also carried on here, as at Coughton. There was also some brick-making in the middle of last century. (fn. 3) The principal occupation is now agriculture, though the post-War increase in population may be attributed to the growing importance of Redditch, now the chief centre of the needle trade.
Geologically, Sambourne lies in the Triassic area of Keuper red marls. (fn. 4) The sub-soil is clay and gravel, the upper gravel, and there were formerly gravel- and marl-pits. The land is mainly under grass.
The medieval history of Sambourne is largely bound up with that of Feckenham Forest. The woodland of the manor in 1086 measured a league by half a league. (fn. 5) The whole village was taken into the Forest by King John. (fn. 6) But the lord of the manor, the Abbot of Evesham, and his tenants assarted and inclosed a considerable area of the forest from time to time, with or without leave. (fn. 7) The abbey claimed royal charters making it quit of waste, regard, view of foresters or verderers, and any interference by the king's servants; in 1280, however, the abbot had to pay 50 marks to recover his wood of Sambourne which had been seized for the misdeeds of his woodward and many other disputes between his bailiffs and those of the queen. (fn. 8) In June 1459 an inquest held before the king's verderers defined the bounds between the king's forest and the demesne of the abbot. The lordship or manor of Sambourne, they said, began at Thremorehulle in the Ridgeway, continued by Abboteslone and the forks to Ambisshok on Ridgeway, and so back to Thremorehulle. (fn. 9)
Inclosure was begun here by the abbots, (fn. 10) but the chief movement came in the early 18th century. In September 1707 the tenants commoners, 24 in number, presented a petition to Sir Robert Throckmorton, lord of the manor and of the waste ground called Sambourne Heath: 'Being sensible not only of the mistakes and obstinacy of our predecessors but also of our own backwardness and neglect in not readily consenting and agreeing to the inclosure of Sambourne Heath, which in all probability (if inclosed and tilled) will turn to more than double the profit and advantage made thereof as it is now used, the same common or waste ground being now run over and ate up with a great warren of conies and by the cattle of neighbouring parishes intercommoning there by reason of vicinage, and the commoners there now putting on cattle without stint, thereby rendering the said common, though containing near 1,000 acres of waste ground, yet of small profit', they asked that the common might be inclosed and divided into three or four large fields, then subdivided by mounds or marks so that the lord and tenants might have their due proportions. They offered to pass all necessary by-laws at the manor court within twenty years, and consent to any order, decree, or Act of Parliament which Sir Robert might procure. An agreement was drafted as between him and the customary tenants. It was estimated that the annual value of the land when inclosed and tilled would be about £400, i.e. more than double its then value. Sir Robert would provide the necessary ways, gates, stiles, &c., at first, but thereafter boundaries were to be maintained by the owners. Not more than 60 acres were first to be set apart for the benefit of the poor persons who then lived in cottages on the waste. This land was to be settled on trustees, and any not required for cottages was to be held as to one half for the poor of Sambourne, the other to augment the 'poor stipend' of the vicar of Coughton.* Unfortunately there were recalcitrant tenants and Sir Robert was not able, even by Bill in Chancery, to 'break the chief head of the serpent Hydra and facilitate the inclosure of the common', as his steward put it.* The Act was finally passed in 1773. (fn. 11) There were twenty persons concerned in the Award, including the then Sir Robert Throckmorton, who was heavily compensated for the loss of a large warren. Certain dues also went to the vicar of Coughton. The total area was said to be 569ac. or. 32p. (fn. 12)
The manor of SAMBOURNE was part of the original, or at least a very early, endowment of the abbey of Evesham. (fn. 13) It appears as such in Domesday, where it is assessed at 3 hides, (fn. 14) and so remained until the Dissolution. In 1285 the abbot claimed view of frankpledge, sac and soc, tol and teme, infangthief, weyf, assize of bread and ale and a gallows here which served for all the neighbouring manors. (fn. 15) In 1535 the manor was valued at £30 13s. 6d. (fn. 16) In March 1538 the abbot, perhaps in hope of saving something for his house out of the approaching wreck, demised the manor to Robert Throckmorton for 70 years. (fn. 17) After the Dissolution, in 1540, the manor was granted to him by the Crown for £455 2s. 6d., to be paid in instalments, and the service of 1/10 knight's fee. (fn. 18) Sambourne has since followed the descent of Coughton (q.v.) and in 1631 was valued annually at £64, excluding woods and perquisites of court.*
The custumal of the manor was revised in the manor court on 1 July 1583 by comparison with the 'ancient records and court rolls' back to 1433. It was confirmed by decree in Chancery on 16 Nov. of the same year and by Letters Patent on 18 April 1593. There were sixteen tenants called 'half-yard-men' (who held a half-yardland of ground, to be kept by them in several on condition that they kept the mounds or banks in repair). The custom of the manor was Borough English. (fn. 19) The courts were mainly court baron and view of frankpledge, and the lord had free warren, woods, and fishery. (fn. 20)
Domesday makes no mention of a mill here, but about a century later it is recorded that the mill of Sambourne was let to farm. (fn. 21) In 1433 the Abbot of Evesham demised to John Throckmorton for 90 years 'the Mullemede' and other land in Sambourne, bounded by the present demesne land, Cane Brook, the highway to Studley, and the River Arrow. (fn. 22) A confirmation of this grant to John's son, Robert Throckmorton, for 10 years, includes also the river and fishing from Spernall to the site of the manor of Coughton.* Mills and fisheries are enumerated among the appurtenances in the demise of the manor to Robert Throckmorton in 1538. (fn. 23)
There is a chapel-of-ease with a graveyard, built in 1892 and served by the vicar of Coughton. Before the Reformation there was a chapel of St. Andrew here, in which one of the canons of Studley celebrated Mass thrice a week. The Priory of Studley had tithes of corn and hay in Sambourne as of their parish of Coughton, and by ancient agreement (fn. 24) with the abbey of Evesham they provided for its spiritual welfare, as the two villages were over a mile apart and the ways between often impassable by reason of overflowing brooks in wet weather. The last canon who officiated was Dom William Farr, a yearly payment of 40s. to whom appears among the charges of the priory at the Dissolution. The tithes had been demised to one John (or Richard) Parsons, who continued to provide a priest, but when they were granted to Sir George Throckmorton in 1546 (fn. 25) he said that the Prior of Studley had done so as a favour and not by right. Some of the inhabitants of Sambourne, where there were 'forty-four householders at the least', objected and withheld their tithes until a priest should be provided, (fn. 26) but their protest was in vain and the chapel fell into disuse. (fn. 27) The Abbots of Evesham, as lords of the manor, also held a small portion of the tithe, valued in 1535 at 3s. 4d. annually. (fn. 28)
Robert Haynes by will dated 21 Feb. 1710 gave £20, the interest to be applied to set poor children of Sambourne apprentices; Joyce Whoman gave the interest on 40s. to be given to seven poor widows of Sambourne; William Hemming gave £4, the interest to be given to four widows; and Mrs. Ann Gauton gave £100 for the use of the poor. These legacies were invested in real estate and now consist of 4 acres of freehold land together with seven cottages at Sambourne, the whole producing a yearly rent of about £58 10s. Trustees to administer the Charity are appointed by Orders of the Charity Commissioners and the income is distributed to the poor of Sambourne.
John Hobbins of Studley in 1735 left 20s. yearly out of land in Great Alne to find gowns for two widows of Sambourne on 1 May. This charity is now in the hands of the vicar. (fn. 29)