A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4, Hemlingford Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1947.
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This is a large parish, measuring over 5 miles from north to south and about 3 miles from east to west. Its southern boundary is mostly formed by the Penmire Brook, which joins the River Anker, here flowing northwards, at Grendon Cornmill. The river forms the parish boundary for a mile, but then turns sharply to flow westwards for a little over a mile. In the angle which it forms when it again turns north lies the village of Polesworth, with its church, school, Baptist, Congregational, and Methodist chapels. From the village one road runs north-east, crossing the Trent Valley section of the L.M.S. Railway near Polesworth station and continuing as a foot-path to Bramcote Hall, a mid18th-century house of red brick with curvilinear halfgables. A second road goes east and then north-east to the village of Warton, which was formed into a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1849 and has a church (Holy Trinity) built of stone in the Early English style. Two or three cottages here show timber-framing of the 17th century. A third road from Polesworth runs south to Dordon, a colliery and brick-making district which, with Freasley on the western edge of the parish, was constituted an ecclesiastical parish in 1932. Here there is a church (St. Leonard) of red brick, built in 1868 and enlarged in 1901, and also a Methodist chapel. In the angle where this road meets the Watling Street, which crosses the south of the parish, is Birch Coppice, the largest block of woodland in the parish. A little farther west along Watling Street are Hall End and Holt Hall, and the Birch Coppice Colliery, with its railway which joins the Kingsbury branch of the L.M.S. near the southern extremity of the parish.
The country is mostly open, with some patches of wood in the south; there are one or two small streams, and the Coventry Canal runs through the parish roughly parallel with the River Anker. Most of the country lies between 200 ft. and 300 ft., but just north of Dordon is a fairly steep hill on which a height of 408 ft. is attained.
Under an Act (fn. 1) of 1771 some 840 acres in Warton were inclosed; and in 1806 another Act (fn. 2) was passed for inclosing 450 acres in Polesworth and Grendon. In 1934 88 acres of Polesworth between the Watling Street and the Kettle Brook were united to Wilnecote. (fn. 3)
Where the road south from the village crosses the Anker is a corn-mill, doubtless on the site of one of the two mills belonging to the abbey which in 1291 were worth £1 6s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 4) The second was presumably the mill of Freasley, which must have been on the Kettle Brook, granted to the nuns by Robert de Kailli. (fn. 5) The mills were leased to William Hunt for 21 years in 1538, (fn. 6) and were included in the grant of the abbey lands to Francis Goodere in 1545. (fn. 7) From 1574 to 1683 three water-mills are referred to as appurtenant to the manor of Polesworth. (fn. 8)
After the Dissolution the site of Polesworth Abbey passed to Francis Goodere, whose son Sir Henry fashioned a manor-house out of, or on the site of, the Abbess's Lodgings, west of the cloisters. This mansion was replaced about 1870 by the vicarage, but some material from the manor-house was re-used in it. This includes a fire-place, 7½ ft. wide, of much perished grey-white stone with a depressed four-centred head; the spandrels are carved with the Goodere badge, a partridge and an ear of corn. The same room (the Dining Hall) has a roof of three bays in which are two large pointed arches formed by hollow-chamfered beams, probably of the 15th century, carried on later wood corbels. The walls are lined with high dadoes of early-17th-century panelling. In the garden stands an extraordinarily tall stone baluster sun-dial, 15 or 16 ft. high, probably of the 17th century.
The gate-house stands to the north of the west end of the church. It is of two stories, the lower used as a store-house, the upper mainly as a boys' club in connexion with the church. The walls are of rough ashlar, except over the gateway and chamber east of it, where they are of timber-framing and have a late-14th-century roof. The gateway, about 12 ft. wide, has lost its north and south arches in some later heightening. The side walls of it are of stone, and a projection midway suggests that there was also an intermediate archway. On either side of the west projection are blocked later doorways. Next, east of the main gateway, is a narrow foot-way that has north and south entrances with chamfered jambs and segmental heads. This also had a former intermediate cross-arch, of which a nib of the east jamb remains; and in the same wall is an original pointed doorway into the east chamber. The chamber is lighted by small rectangular windows in the north wall, probably original but with altered heads. A 14thcentury doorway in the south wall gives entrance to a straight stairway south of the chamber, leading to the upper quarters. The timber-framing of the upper story is in plain rectangular panels infilled with brick and does not appear to be earlier than the 17th century, but inside are late-14th-century roof-trusses forming two 7½-ft. bays over the side chamber and one 13½-ft. bay over the gateway. They are of less width than the stone lower story and the slope is carried down lower on the south side to form a kind of narrow aisle. The main truss, over the east wall of the gateway, has a cambered tie-beam supported by two foiled braces and carrying a king-post with four-way struts under the central purlin and collar-beam. The truss between the two narrower bays has a tie-beam supported by curved braces forming a four-centred arch and carries a similar king-post, &c. The vertical framing on the south side of the two narrow bays, cutting off the 'aisle', has braces forming trefoiled pointed arches below the purlin. A pointed doorway in half the western of these was probably the original entrance from the top of the stair. There is no vertical side-framing in the larger bay. A moulded pointed stone doorway in the west wall has steps down through it to the lower level of the first floor of the west range. This range does not appear to be earlier than the 16th or early 17th century. It has square-headed mullioned windows, all restored. In the middle of the south front is a gabled projection that was probably a porch-wing and had a pointed entrance. The roof has plain trusses with tie-beams and collarbeams only, and purlins with straight wind-braces. A timber-framed cottage north of the east end of the gatehouse and at right angles to it is of early-16th-century date. The north end towards High Street has a jettied upper story and is gabled. On the west side is an original projecting stone chimney-stack flanked and topped by later brickwork. A row of cottages adjoining to the east has 17th-century timber-framing much renovated.
Besides the gate-house to the priory there are several other old buildings in the village. The school-house, founded by Sir Francis Nethersole in 1655, (fn. 9) at the north-west corner of the High Street is of half-H plan with walls of red and black bricks and stone dressings, and balustraded parapets. The middle arched entrance to the street is flanked by semi-octagonal turrets with cupolas, and above the roof is an open-sided stone lantern with a domed roof.
The Spread Eagle Inn opposite the gate-house, and four cottages farther east, all more or less altered, show remains of 17th-century or earlier timber-framing. The easternmost on the south side has a medieval cruck. Three have thatched roofs.
In the street west of the church two other cottages show remains of 17th-century framing, and east of one is a late-17th-century brick dovecote and timber-framed barn. At the south end near the bridge another thatched cottage is completely of 17th-century framing.
Pooley Hall, ½ mile north-west of the church, now the residence of Col. D'Arcy Chaytor, C.M.G., was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Cokayne in 1509, as a semi-defensive demesne. His house was probably much larger than the existing remains. In plan these consist of a main rectangular structure about 55 ft. long by 21 ft. wide externally, facing east, and of two stories. Adjoining west of it is a wing about 32 ft. wide, of only one story originally, with an upper floor inserted in the 17th century. It is quite probable that this wing, now only about 30 ft. long, is a relic of the original and longer great hall of the house, of which the present main block was the solar wing of two stories. (fn. 10) To the north of the last is a detached three-storied tower, about 25 ft. by 21 ft. externally, connected with the house by an east curtain-wall. Conjoined to the west of this tower is a slightly later wing, probably built as retainers' lodgings, separated from the residence by a courtyard. South of the house was the chapel, also detached, and now desecrated.
The walls generally are of red brick with stone dressings. The east range was originally of two main rooms on each floor, as indicated by the ceilings, a hall or parlour (and room over) of about 36 ft., now divided into the Drawing Room and a pantry, and a north chamber of about 15 ft. (the Dining Room) which would represent the buttery of a college hall, the narrow space between them, now containing the stairs, being the screens passage, with a west doorway into the former Great Hall. The walls are about 2½ ft. thick. At the south end of the east wall is the deep square bay-window of the hall and room over. This is of stone in the lower story with a chamfered plinth and a moulded stringcourse at first-floor level; the upper story is of brick with stone quoins. The windows are of six four-centred lights in front and three in each side. The parapets of both the bay and the main wall are embattled. Next, north of the square bay, is a wide projecting chimneystack, possibly original; the fire-place is altered to a smaller one and a recess lighted by a modern window: the upper fire-place, if any, is blocked, and the chimneyshaft is modern. Other original windows, of three lights, now light the pantry and bathroom. The Dining Room window was altered in the 17th century to a wood frame of three lights with a transom, but the twolight window to the room above is original. Set lower in the wall is a tall upper window of three lights to the staircase; this also is original and indicates probably an earlier staircase than the present one. A garde-robe projects at the north end of the wall and is lighted by small loops, with moulded jambs, on its south and east sides: the lower story of it has been widened northwards.
The hall or parlour ceiling, of four bays, has doubleogee moulded cross-beams and a longitudinal beam with scribed joints at the intersections and masons' joints at the wall-plates; the north bay is now in the pantry. The stair hall, the original screens-passage, has lost its ceiling, but the west doorway although altered is probably the original entrance from the Great Hall. The staircase is not very old, but the walls are lined with early-17th-century panelling. In the north wall is the original stone doorway into the Dining Room, with an ancient battened door with strap hinges. The Dining Room has large ceiling-beams with large chamfers, crossing each other with scribed joints, and chamfered exposed joists. The fire-place is modern. In the west wall is a 17th-century two-light wood-framed window. The upper story over the hall or parlour, now several smaller rooms, preserves its original ceiling extending over all. It is divided into three bays by moulded cambered cross-beams; smaller similarly moulded joists longitudinally divide each of the bays into eight compartments. The principal of the modern chambers has a frieze made up of early-16th-century panels carved with human heads in roundels between scroll ornament.
The stair-hall widens in the upper story to provide a landing, but its chamfered cross-beam indicates the original width, which is that of the lower story. It has a ribbed patterned ceiling. The chamber north of it over the Dining Room also has cambered cross-beams and joists, differently moulded from the others. All the floors are cemented.
The steeply gabled roof may be 17th-century, replacing an original flat roof. It is of seven bays with sloping struts below the principal rafters, and sidepurlins strengthened by straight wind-braces. The adjoining west wing, probably part of the original Great Hall, has a south wall of brick with a stone plinth, and an ancient stone buttress of three stages dividing it. The bay west of it had a tall window of three four-centred lights, now blocked; the present upper floor cuts across it, and inside the lower story is a 17th-century fire-place, 12 ft. wide (the whole width of the kitchen) with an oak bressummer. The east bay has 18th-century windows and a doorway. The west end of the wing was rebuilt in 1692 (the date on a rain-water head) and has twin gable-heads. The north side had a similar tall window, mostly hidden by a late17th-century widening of the wing.
The north tower is built of similar brick and stone and has an embattled parapet. At the north-east angle was a projecting garde-robe of full height, of which the four-centred doorways in each story still remain, now blocked. The windows are like those in the main block. In the middle of the south wall was the entrance, with a four-centred arch in a square head. It is now blocked and another entrance pierced farther west. A rectangular enclosure inside against the south wall leads to the south-east stair-vice which is also enclosed by a square in the second story. Above this floor it switches over to a narrower vice cut in the thickness of the wall, where it has a thick pier pierced by a narrow loop looking south, and there are loops to the east. The lowest story had a doorway, now blocked, into the west wing, and has an open-timbered ceiling. The upper floor has disappeared. In the west wall of the second story is another blocked doorway and three four-centred recesses of brick, probably made for cupboards: they are now fitted with pigeons' nests. In the third story two blocked windows are similarly fitted. In the north wall were later fire-places, now filled in.
The adjoining west wing of two stories is of red brick, the upper story with diaper ornament in black headers. In the south front is a porch-wing with a blocked four-centred doorway, and there are other doorways, one at each end of the main wall. The surviving original windows are of moulded brickwork with hollow-chamfered mullions. The west wall has been rebuilt and the interior refitted in modern times.
The detached south chapel is built askew with the main block, probably for exactness in orientation. The brick walls have dark headers, mostly more or less coursed, and stone dressings. The parapets are embattled both in the side-walls and the low-pitched end gables, but the merlons on the north side have disappeared. The east window is of three pointed lights under a four-centred head with a hood-mould. The side windows, of varying widths, have four-centred lights in square heads; the north-eastern is altered to a doorway. The west doorway has chamfered jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with a label which has volute stops. The door is ancient, of oak with planted-on ribs dividing it into small panels. Over it is a square-headed window of three four-centred lights. At the west end of the north side is a square turret of two stories, rising as an octagon above the main parapets. Four-centred doorways open into it from the main body in both stories, indicating a former west gallery. A large raking buttress is built against the south wall. The roof has plain timbers and is covered with lead.
Hall End Hall, (fn. 11) about 1¼ miles south-south-west of the church, appears to have been an Elizabethan or earlier building altered in the 17th century and subsequently. It was originally a larger building than now. The plan is L-shaped, with the main block, of local cream sandstone, facing south and an early-18th-century north-east wing of red brick. In the angle between the two is the original stair-hall with stone walls, and behind it and the west half are more modern lower outbuildings.
The main block extended farther east, perhaps half as much again, and was reduced when the present east wall was rebuilt in brick and the 18th-century wing added. There is no visible trace of an original front entrance, the present doorway being cut out of a window. The fenestration of the front has also been much altered. Although the wall is in one plane, it may be said to be of three bays marked by the three large stone dormers of the third story above the eaves. They are flush with the lower wall and have gable-heads that are now straight-sided. The middle one was curvilinear (clearly marked) and has a raised shield which probably bore the arms of Corbin, three corbies on a chief, but the chief is now inscribed IHA and the base has an indistinct date, 16 . . .; the shield appears to be between two raised initials G. C. The eastern gable seems also to have been curvilinear; it has a raised circular device, perhaps a sun in glory or possibly a flower. The western gable may have been crow-stepped. In all three bull'seye lights were inserted later at the apices, but they have the ancient three-light windows with moulded members and dripstones. These dormers may be later than the lower wall, in which is a deep two-storied bay window with a glazed light, with a transom, in each of the five sides, central with the western dormer. Of the other windows, all of which have wood frames and lead lattice-work, only one, the lowest below the middle gable, retains its original position, and the present entrance has been made in the western part of it. Over the back wall are three plain cemented dormers which encroach on the two projecting chimney-stacks with 17th-century detached square shafts having V-shaped pilasters. The stair-hall has cemented mullioned windows to the upper part. The gabled east end is of early-18th-century brickwork and has a large projecting chimney-stack. This has a 10-ft. fire-place on the ground floor with an oak bressummer. Next north of it is the side entrance, which has an ancient nail-studded door. From this and from the front doorway are passages partitioned off from the two rooms that may have been one large chamber served by the disused fire-place on the north side of the passage from the side entrance. This is of stone, 6 ft. 3 in. wide, with moulded jambs and head and flanked by half-round rusticated shafts with Ionic capitals supporting a moulded shelf and pediment. The doorway east of it into the back wing and also the side entrance have stone entablatures and pediments, the whole being probably of the early 17th century. The bedroom above has a fire-place in this stack and not in the east stack. It has moulded stone jambs and four-centred arch in a square head and a projecting entablature and shelf on enriched consoles. At the north end of the adjacent east wall is a stone four-centred doorway which probably opened into the missing part of the house. It is now a cupboard and has a panelled door hung with 'cock's-head' hinges. The room is lined with late-16th-century panelling that has a frieze of griffins with scroll tails. At the north-west corner is a lobby of the same woodwork with an open cresting of a pair of fish-monsters. Over the fire-place is a shield, between a pair of similar monsters, charged with the arms of Corbin impaling Grosvenor. (fn. 12) The staircase is of short flights around a solid central square newel. Doorways with four-centred heads open into it, and it has side-windows that lighted it before the wings were built, as well as those in the upper part of the north wall. The gabled roof has wind-braced purlins.
The lattice windows have old ornamental casement fasteners. In the window by the front entrance is an oval cartouche of coloured glass with a shield charged azure a chief or with three corbies, all surrounded by a sun-dial and scroll ornament.
Freasley Hall, 2 miles south-west of the church, is a square-built house of red brick with tall casement windows, probably of the late 17th century. The west doorway has a stone curved pediment, and a window over it with rusticated stone dressings is dated 1723.
Lakyns, south-west of the Hall, is a late-16th-century building retaining much of its original timber-framing. This is in square panels with straight braces under the wall plates and tie-beams. It is in three bays, the middle having a 9-ft. fire-place in the central chimney-stack. The ceilings have stop-chamfered beams. The rooftrusses have sloping struts on the tie-beams, and the purlins have straight wind-braces. There are several original doors with moulded battens. The stairs, of late-17th-century detail, have been remodelled.
Polesworth is not named in Domesday Book, but, in the time of King Stephen, Robert Marmion and his wife Millicent gave all their land there to the abbess and convent of Polesworth. (fn. 13) In 1242 the nuns were granted a weekly market on Thursdays and a yearly fair from 19 to 21 July. (fn. 14) They were also quit of shires, hundreds, and sheriff's tourns and held view of frankpledge for an annual payment of 5s. at the Exchequer. (fn. 15)
On the suppression of the nunnery (fn. 16) the site of the house, with the lordship or manor or town of POLESWORTH, was sold by the Crown to Francis Goodere in 1545. (fn. 17) He died in December 1546 and his wife Ursula in the following month, leaving a son Henry, then aged 13. (fn. 18) The manor was at that time in the occupation of Dame Florence Clyfford, a widow. (fn. 19) In 1574 Henry Goodere (fn. 20) and his wife Frances settled the manor on themselves and their heirs, (fn. 21) and in February 1595 Sir Henry settled it on his daughter Frances in tail-male on her marriage with her cousin Henry son and heir of William Goodere of Monks Kirby, brother of Sir Henry. (fn. 22) Sir Henry died in March 1595. (fn. 23) The younger Sir Henry, together with John Goodere, probably his son, was dealing with the manor in 1618 (fn. 24) and in 1624, (fn. 25) but both were, apparently, dead by 1628, when Sir Henry's sister-inlaw, Anne Rainsford, widow, his daughters Lucy, Elizabeth, Mary, and Anne, with Sir Francis Nethersole, husband of Lucy, conveyed the manor to Sir Robert Honywood and others. (fn. 26) In 1655 Sir Robert Honywood and his wife Frances and Samuel Roper and his wife Elizabeth, a daughter of Sir Henry Goodere, conveyed the manor to Samuel Hildersam, probably the son of the Rev. Samuel Hildersham and Mary, another daughter of Sir Henry. (fn. 27) Anne Goodere married Dr. John Kingston of London, and their elder daughter Frances with her husband Michael Biddulph (fn. 28) was dealing with the manor in 1661. (fn. 29) Their son Michael Biddulph was holding it in 1683, (fn. 30) and George Biddulph was lord of the manor in 1737. (fn. 31) By 1742 it was in the hands of Robert Kedington and his wife (fn. 32) who, with others, conveyed it in 1747 to Walter Chetwynde. (fn. 33) The manor then descended with the manor of Grendon (q.v.) (fn. 34) and is now in the possession of the trustees of the late Sir George Guy Chetwynd. (fn. 35)
In 1235–6 the overlordship of half a knight's fee in BRAMCOTE was held by Earl Ferrers (fn. 36) and passed with the rest of the landed possessions of his grandson, Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, in 1266. (fn. 37) It continued as part of the Duchy of Lancaster possessions, (fn. 38) and in 1603 the manor was held of the king of the honor of Tutbury as of the Duchy of Lancaster, as one knight's fee. (fn. 39) Richard de Canville appears as mesne lord in 1242–3, (fn. 40) but there is no further trace of any intermediate lordship.
It seems possible that Bramcote formed part of the land of which Henry de Ferrers had enfeoffed Roger de Grendon before 1086, (fn. 41) and that it passed to Roger's younger son Walkeline, who is said to have taken his surname from there. (fn. 42) A Robert de Bromcote granted land, (fn. 43) and, in 1220, pasturage rights (fn. 44) there to the nuns of Polesworth; and William de Bramcot was holding part of a knight's fee there in 1242–3. (fn. 45)
In 1323 William de Grendon, parson of Babworth, co. Notts., complained that his manor of Bramcote had been entered, and that he himself had been assaulted and forced to put his seal to a lease of the manor to Richard de Vernoun for 6 years 6 weeks, and to a quitclaim of the same manor to Thomas son of Robert de Grendon and his heirs. (fn. 46) Thomas was probably greatgreat-grandson of Walkeline de Bromcote, (fn. 47) and the manor is believed to have descended in this branch of the Grendon family, through another Thomas, grandson of Robert, to his daughter Margaret, first the wife of William Charnels, lord of Snareston, co. Leics., and, afterwards of Thomas Mallory. (fn. 48) In 1407 Bramcote was settled on Thomas and Margaret (fn. 49) and they were dealing with it in 1411, (fn. 50) as were Margaret, described as widow of William Charnels, and her son John Charnels, in 1429. (fn. 51)
The manor appears to have come into the hands of trustees to the use of Joan wife of Nicholas Burdet (fn. 52) and cousin and heir of Henry Bruin of Ab Lench in Fladbury, co. Worcs. (fn. 53) At the suit of William Charnels, however, Joan, a widow since 1440, (fn. 54) her son, Thomas Burdet, and others were found guilty of having forged a deed to disturb William's possession of the manor. (fn. 55) It was subsequently found that William had brought this suit 'of malice and by maintenance unjustly' and Joan and the rest were pardoned in 1449. (fn. 56)
Joan was dead, presumably, by 1466, when William Charnels enfeoffed Thomas Burdett of the manor. (fn. 57) Thomas was attainted and beheaded in 1474 (fn. 58) and the custody of his heir Nicholas and his lands was granted in 1478 to Sir Simon Mountfort. (fn. 59) Nicholas died without issue, his heir being his brother John (fn. 60) who died in 1528 or 1529, leaving a son Thomas. (fn. 61) Thomas Burdett died in 1536 and his son Robert (fn. 62) in 1550, leaving a son Thomas, then aged 16, and a widow Elizabeth, (fn. 63) who may have been the Elizabeth wife of Humphrey Coxe on whom the manor was settled in 1560 or 1561. (fn. 64) From Thomas Burdett the manor passed in 1591 to his son Robert, (fn. 65) who with his wife, Mary, (fn. 66) had been living at Bramcote Hall since 1584, and who died in 1603. (fn. 67) Robert's son Thomas settled the manor in 1635 on his son Francis on his marriage, (fn. 68) and Bramcote then descended in the Burdett family at least until 1823, when Sir Francis Burdett held it. (fn. 69)
DORDON is believed to have formed part of the knight's fee given before 1135 by Robert Marmion to Roger Grendon, (fn. 70) which as one fee in Dordon and part of Warton (q.v.) was held by Ralph de Grendon in 1291 of Philip Marmion. (fn. 71) The overlordship descended with Tamworth Castle at least until 1558. (fn. 72)
In 1253 the abbess of Polesworth quitclaimed to Philip Marmion all right of view of frankpledge over his men there, retaining the view over the convent's men of their fee in Dordon. (fn. 73) Later the abbess was given view of frankpledge of the tenants of Ralph son and heir of Sir Ralph de Grendon here. (fn. 74)
Dordon is said to have been demised to William Bagot, (fn. 75) of whom Scolastica widow of Robert de Grendon was claiming ⅓ of £21 rent there as dower, in 1273. (fn. 76) Bagot is said to have sold the reversion of Dordon in 1274 to Roger, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, reserving the rent of a pair of gloves or a penny at Easter to Sir Ralph de Grendon for all services. (fn. 77)
Ralph son and heir of Sir Ralph de Grendon, and grandson of Robert de Grendon, (fn. 78) held Dordon with part of Warton as one knight's fee in 1291. (fn. 79) He entailed it in 1299 on himself and his second wife Joan de Clinton and their heirs, (fn. 80) and died in 1331. (fn. 81) The vill of Dordon passed to Robert de Grendon as appurtenant to the manor of Grendon (fn. 82) (q.v.) with which it then descended. Philip de Chetwynd and Alice his wife were dealing in 1338 with their share of Dordon, (fn. 83) and another Philip Chetwynd at his death in 1445 was holding an estate here. (fn. 84) With the heirs of Robert Grendon there descended what was variously described as a knight's fee in Dordon and Waverton, or simply in Dordon, (fn. 85) the manor, (fn. 86) or merely tenements in Dordon. (fn. 87) Sir George Chetwynd held the so-called manor in 1824, (fn. 88) and a later Sir George in 1878. (fn. 89)
William de Chetwynd was claiming right of free warren in Dordon in 1392. (fn. 90)
Sir Anthony Wingfield was claiming 1/6 of the vill some time between 1547 and 1551 in right of the Lady Elizabeth his wife, (fn. 91) daughter of Sir George de Vere. (fn. 92) In 1588 what was described as ¼ of the manor of DORDON was conveyed to Robert son and heir of Henry Wingfeld, and Mary his wife, by Henry Wingfeld. (fn. 93)
Robert Harcourt died seised of what was described as a manor of DORDON in 1558, having inherited it from his father, John Harcourt, and leaving as his heir a brother Simon. (fn. 94) Members of this family were dealing with tenements here in 1583. (fn. 95)
The overlordship of a knight's fee in Freasley was held in 1235–6 by Robert Marmion, (fn. 96) lord of Tamworth Castle, whose descendants exercised overlordship over part of Freasley at least until 1458. (fn. 97) In 1599 and 1617, however, this same part of Freasley was said to be held of the Crown of the fee of Winchester in socage for fealty. (fn. 98)
It seems probable that Freasley formed the knight's 'fee of which Jordan de Cailli had been enfeoffed by Robert Marmion some time before 1135, (fn. 99) since Robert de Kayly gave two-thirds of his vill of Freasley to the abbot and canons of Lilleshall, co. Salop, (fn. 100) in which monastery he desired to be buried. (fn. 101) The remaining third he left to his sisters and heirs, one the wife of Simon de Whitacre of Over Whitacre (q.v.) and the other of Richard de Pakington. (fn. 102) A later Simon de Whitacre, however, held Freasley as one knight's fee in 1235–6 (fn. 103) and was given the right of free warren in his demesne lands there in 1256. (fn. 104) This manor of FREASLEY descended with Over Whitacre (fn. 105) (q.v.) for 250 years, passing through heiresses to the family of Pulteney.
The manor or capital messuage of HOLT HALL is first mentioned in 1526, when Joan Aston, widow, conveyed her rights in it to Sir Thomas Pulteney and Anne his wife, (fn. 106) her cousin and co-heiress with her of part of Over Whitacre (q.v.). (fn. 107) Sir Thomas died in 1541 seised of the manor, which passed to his son Francis. (fn. 108) Michael Pulteney and his wife Katherine were dealing with it in 1566. (fn. 109) Michael's brother and heir Gabriel held the manor in 1573, (fn. 110) and Katherine, Michael's widow, with her husband Sir Henry Darcy, surrendered her estate in it to Gabriel in 1589. (fn. 111)
In 1595 Gabriel settled Holt Hall on his son, John Pulteney and his heirs in tail-male, together with the manor of Freasley (q.v.), (fn. 112) with which it descended until at least 1799, (fn. 113) being described either as the manors or manor of Holt Hall and Freasley. (fn. 114)
Gabriel Pulteney of Misterton, co. Leics., who parted with Over Whitacre (q.v.) in 1573, died seised thereof in 1599. (fn. 115) His son, Sir John, died in 1617 leaving a young son, another John Pulteney, (fn. 116) who, with his wife Margaret, conveyed the manor in 1636 to William Reeve (fn. 117) of Holt Hall, (fn. 118) who was still dealing with the property in 1649. (fn. 119)
In 1665 Edward Beck of Holt Hall, who had inherited the Lilleshall estate in Freasley, conveyed the manor of Freasley in trust for Thomas Corbin of Hall End (q.v.), (fn. 120) who in 1688, a few months before his death, (fn. 121) settled the manors of Freasley and Holt Hall and a messuage called Hall End on his daughter Margaret on her marriage with William Lygon of Madresfield Court, co. Worcs. (fn. 122) Margaret died in 1699, as sole heir of her father. (fn. 123) In 1716 William Lygon, senior and junior, presumably her husband and son, with the other son Corbyn Lygon, their daughter Margaret and her husband Reginald Pindar were dealing with the manors. (fn. 124) Margaret's son Reginald took the name Lygon, and was succeeded in 1788 by his son William Lygon, (fn. 125) who was holding this manor of Freasley with Holt Hall in 1799. (fn. 126)
Robert de Kayly's grant or sale of land, wood, and waste in Freasley to Lilleshall (fn. 127) is said to have been ratified by his sister, who was wife of Richard de Pakington, (fn. 128) and Sir Simon de Whitacre grandson of the other sister made a similar release of his rights in 1240. (fn. 129) Jordan de Whitacre, his son and heir, however, took advantage of the disturbances of the Barons' Wars, and entered upon these lands again and died seised of them. (fn. 130) His widow, Philippa, who married James de Astley, (fn. 131) and his son Edmund de Whitacre retained this twothirds of the manor of Freasley and in 1287 the abbot sought remedy against them. (fn. 132) Richard de Whitacre, another son and the heir of Jordan and Philippa, finally released his rights in this two-thirds in 1292 or 1293. (fn. 133) These lands then remained in the possession of the monastery until the Dissolution, (fn. 134) after which they were sold in 1543 to James Leveson, merchant of the Staple. (fn. 135) They included a capital messuage and three other messuages. (fn. 136) In the same year Leveson conveyed these same tenements to John Becke of Freasley, (fn. 137) who bequeathed them to his wife, Agnes, for life and died leaving a young son Richard. (fn. 138) Agnes, now Agnes Weston, presumably by a second marriage, claimed 2/3 of the property, as John Becke's bequest, and asserted that since the heir was under age, the remaining third went to the queen, of whom all the premises were held by knight's service. (fn. 139) This third appears to have been leased by Queen Elizabeth to Richard Bonyvaunt. (fn. 140) In 1634 William Becke died seised of a capital messuage and a number of tenements in Freasley, held of the king in chief as a fraction of a knight's fee, and leaving a son, Edward, of full age, and a widow Susannah. (fn. 141) Edward, as mentioned above, acquired the manor of Holt Hall and Freasley, to which this estate was presumably united.
Richard Gregory held ⅓ knight's fee in Freasley in 1291 of Philip Marmion. (fn. 142) Gregory de Freseley was holding ⅓ fee there in 1375 of Philip's successor, Sir Baldwin de Grevill, (fn. 143) and the heirs of Gregory in 1458 of Sir Baldwin's heirs. (fn. 144)
Robert de Kayly had given the mill of Freasley, together with its fish pond, suit of mill, and land, to the abbess of Polesworth, and this grant was confirmed by Robert Marmion. (fn. 145) In 1253 Philip Marmion confirmed to the abbess 1 messuage and ½ virgate of land there which the nuns had previously held of the gift of Lucy de Freseleg. (fn. 146) At the same time the abbess surrendered her claim to hold view of frankpledge of Philip'stenants in Freasley, retaining that right over her own men there. (fn. 147) The abbey of Polesworth had also been granted all the lands and tenements in Freasley formerly held by Robert Savage, brother of the lord of Pooley (q.v.). (fn. 148) The nuns' property here at the time of the Dissolution produced 29s. 6d. in rents. (fn. 149)
Property in HALL END is said to have come into the Corbin family at the end of the 15th century by the marriage of Joan daughter and heiress of John Sturmie to Nicholas Corbin. (fn. 150) Richard Corbin, their son, (fn. 151) leased a messuage here to Oliver Lynde from Michaelmas 1535 for 20 years. (fn. 152) Richard's son Thomas died in 1584, (fn. 153) and George Corbin son of Thomas settled the messuage called Hall End in 1620 on his own son Thomas on his marriage with Winifred daughter of Gavin Grosvenor of Sutton Coldfield. (fn. 154) George Corbin died in 1636 and Thomas in 1637, leaving a son Thomas, a minor. (fn. 155) It was then said to be held of Philip, Earl of Chesterfield, and Anne his wife as of her manor of Stipershill. (fn. 156) Thomas died in December 1688, (fn. 157) and, his sons having predeceased him, he had settled Hall End in June 1688 on his daughter Margaret on her marriage with William Lygon of Madresfield Court, Worcs. (fn. 158) From this time it would appear to have been merged in the Lygon property in Freasley (q.v.).
POOLEY is said to have been given by Robert Marmion in about the time of King Stephen to one Burdet for a rent of 10s. (fn. 159) Burdet apparently enfeoffed Geoffrey Savage, the rent being commuted for a sore sparrow-hawk yearly, (fn. 160) by which render William le Savage held Pooley of William Burdet, clerk, in 1259. (fn. 161) Burdet is said to have released his rights to Philip Marmion, (fn. 162) from whose descendants, the lords of Tamworth Castle, the manor continued to be held directly.
Geoffrey Savage died between 4 October (fn. 163) and 4 November 1230 (fn. 164) leaving a widow Petronilla daughter of Hugh Despenser, and a young son Geoffrey. (fn. 165) The younger Geoffrey died before 5 April 1248, when his heir was his uncle, William le Savage, rector of Newton Regis (fn. 166) (q.v.), who died in 1259. (fn. 167) Pooley appears to have gone to Thomas de Edensor (son of William's sister Lucy) who died in 1285, after which his lands were divided between his sister Amice, then wife of Sir Walter de Miridene, and his great-nephew Richard son of Sir Adam de Herthill son of Joan, another sister. (fn. 168) Pooley formed part of Richard de Herthill's share, but was held of him by Amice, who, as Amice de Derleye, died in 1302, when Pooley returned to Richard de Herthill. (fn. 169) He died in 1325 and his son Adam (fn. 170) settled the manor on himself and Cristiane, his wife, in 1332 (fn. 171) and died in 1337, his heir being his son Richard. (fn. 172) Cristiane appears to have been dead by 1381. (fn. 173) Sir Richard Herthill having settled the manor on himself and his wife Alice and their heirs (fn. 174) died in 1389, when it passed to his grandson William son of Giles (fn. 175) and was in the king's hands during his minority until 1402. (fn. 176) In 1404 Mary, second wife and widow of Sir Richard Herthill, and then wife of Otto de Worthington, unsuccessfully claimed ⅓ of the manor as her dower. (fn. 177)
William Herthill died in 1402 and Pooley passed to his aunt, Elizabeth wife of John Fraunceys and daughter of Sir Richard Herthill. (fn. 178) By a previous husband, Edmund Cokayne (fn. 179) of Ashbourne, co. Derby, Elizabeth had a son John, (fn. 180) on whom she settled her rights in the manor in 1417. (fn. 181) In 1435 Sir John Cokayne settled the remainder on his wife Isobel and their heirs male (fn. 182) and died in 1438, leaving a son John. (fn. 183) After John's death in 1504 the manor passed to his grandson Thomas, on whom, with his wife Barbara daughter of John Fitzherbert, it had been settled in 1493. (fn. 184) Barbara was still alive in 1538 at the death of her son Francis, who was succeeded by a son Thomas. (fn. 185) Sir Thomas Cokayne settled the manor in 1566 on his wife Dorothy, (fn. 186) and died in 1592. He was succeeded by his son Francis (fn. 187) and he in 1594 by his brother Edward. (fn. 188) In 1606 Sir Edward, with his wife Jane, settled the reversion on their son Thomas on his marriage with Anne daughter of Sir John Stanhope. (fn. 189) Thomas, then aged 19, succeeded his father in the same year (fn. 190) and died in 1639. (fn. 191) His son Aston in 1647 leased or mortgaged Pooley for 21 years to William Cokayne in repayment of a debt of £500; (fn. 192) but it was seized by the Commonwealth government and William had to compound first, and Sir Aston himself suffered sequestration. (fn. 193) In 1682, a few months before they died, Sir Aston and his wife Margaret conveyed Pooley to Humphrey Jennens. (fn. 194)
Pooley would then appear to have descended for a while with the manor of Nether Whitacre (q.v.), being held in 1764 by Charles Jennens. (fn. 195)
STIPERSHILL was the site of a three-weekly court held by the lords of Tamworth Castle. (fn. 200) After Baldwin Frevyll died in 1418 it was divided among his three heirs, (fn. 201) and so remained at least until 1637, (fn. 202) being sometimes described as the manor of Stipershill. (fn. 203) This court is said to have been held no more than twice a year by the beginning of the 17th century. (fn. 204)
Adam Seyntcler, who died in 1410, owed suit to this court every three weeks for an estate in Warton. (fn. 205) The lands held by Sir Philip Chetwynd in Warton and Dordon at his death in 1445 were held in socage as of the manor of Stipershill, (fn. 206) while suit at the court here was due from the tenant of the manor of Stanton by Sapcote, co. Leics., in 1500. (fn. 207) The manor of Grendon in 1546 (fn. 208) and the capital messuage called Hall End in 1637 (fn. 209) were said to be held of the manor of Stipershill.
The lords of Tamworth held right of warren here at least during the 15th century. (fn. 210)
The manor of STIPERSHILL alias WARTON was held in 1736 by James, Earl of Northampton, (fn. 211) who was lord of Tamworth in right of his wife. His daughter and heiress married George, Marquess Townshend, whose successors held this manor until 1808, but in 1821 John Robins is named as lord. (fn. 212)
Robert Marmion and his wife Millicent gave 'the lordship that was theirs' in WARTON or WAVERTON 'in mills and groves' to the nuns of Polesworth (fn. 213) early in the 12th century. (fn. 214) Their son, Robert Marmion, confirmed this grant, (fn. 215) at the same time forbidding the nuns to assart the woods he had given them, and reserving to himself hunting. (fn. 216) The nuns received other grants of land in Warton and had view of frankpledge over their tenants. (fn. 217) At the Dissolution the rents of their lands here brought in 116s. 4d., (fn. 218) and the property subsequently was held by the queen as 1/100 knight's fee by Richard Temple who died in 1568. (fn. 219) His second son Richard Temple died seised in 1587, leaving a brother, Edmund, as his heir. (fn. 220)
Part of Warton is believed to have been included in a grant of a knight's fee made by Robert Marmion before 1135 to Roger Grendon, (fn. 221) who gave half a yardland there to the nuns of Polesworth, (fn. 222) which his son Richard confirmed to them. (fn. 223) The lands of the Grendon family in Warton (fn. 224) appear to have descended with the manor of Grendon (q.v.), and what was described as a manor of Warton was held in 1824 by Sir George Chetwynd. (fn. 225)
The heir of Thomas Culy held what was described in 1375 as 1 fee in Waverton, Budbrooke, and Ratcliffe (Leics.), (fn. 228) and in 1387 and 1458 when the heir of Walter Culy held it, as 1 fee in Waverton and 1 fee in Waverton and Budbroke. (fn. 229) Roger Hilary in 1375 held a part of a fee in Dordon and Warton (fn. 230) and in 1387 what was described as 1 fee in Warton. (fn. 231) Roger was dead by 1403 and his land here, of which his wife Margaret had been jointly enfeoffed, had consisted, apparently, of 5 messuages and 2 carucates of land. (fn. 232)
Cristiane widow of Alexander de Aminton in 1212 claimed ⅓ hide in Warton against Robert de Langedon, as dower. (fn. 233) Robert denied that Alexander had held the land in fee so that he could have dowered her. (fn. 234) John de Longedon in 1291 held ¼ fee in Warton of Philip Marmion. (fn. 235) The heirs of Michael de Longedon were holding ¼ knight's fee in Warton in 1375. (fn. 236) This was said to be held by the heirs of John de Longedon in 1387, (fn. 237) and by the heirs of Michael de Longdon in 1458. (fn. 238)
William Savage, lord of Pooley (q.v.), gave all the lands of his brother, Robert Savage, in 'Doudenhale' (fn. 239) to the nuns of Polesworth, (fn. 240) and Richard Dodunhale, merchant of Coventry, received licence in 1398 to alienate lands here and elsewhere to the nunnery of Polesworth. (fn. 241) All the abbey lands here appear to have passed after the Suppression to Nicholas Trappes and subsequently, as Dodnale Grange, to his heiress Mary and her husband Giles Pawlett. (fn. 242)
A manor whose name is clearly written as BIRDENHALL but which may conceivably be identified with 'Doudenhall' was mortgaged in 1651 to Richard Reeve of Coughton Park (q.v.) by Thomas Grove, and a second mortgage was raised on it in 1666 by James Perrott. (fn. 243) In 1669 Bridget Parris, widow, was claiming that her late husband had had an interest in, or lease of, the manor. (fn. 244)
Robert son of Robert de Grendon gave 'Le Hoo' to the nuns of Polesworth on condition that they found 2 chaplains to celebrate in the chapel of Hoo. (fn. 245) His grandson Sir Ralph son of Ralph de Grendon released the abbess and her successors from all masses in the chapel of Hoo. (fn. 246) But according to Dugdale two priests were still serving there in 1535. (fn. 247) A pasture called the 'Homore', part of the land of the dissolved monastery of Polesworth, was sold to Francis Goodere in 1545. (fn. 248)
Half a mile west of the church on the road to Tamworth The Hermitage probably marks the site of 'the chapel built above St. Edith's well', which was given to the nuns by William Savage. (fn. 249) The stone chapel was still intact in Dugdale's time and had then in its windows figures of two ladies, one of the Herthill family, the other with a mantle of the arms of Swinfen, (fn. 250) but its history appears to be a blank.
The nave is of the first half of the 12th century and was probably always the part of the priory buildings that served the parishioners. A narrow north aisle was either part of the original plan or was added soon afterwards. Both nave and aisle appear to have been shortened in the 14th century, and the aisle widened to its present limits. The position of the tower is peculiar. It seems to have been rebuilt or remodelled by Sir Richard Herthill of Pooley Hall (whose arms appear on the tower) late in the 14th century, but while it is credible that the fair ashlar of the upper part of the tower walls, and of the diagonal buttresses, is of his time, there is little doubt that the lower rubble masonry is of an earlier date—perhaps 13th century. It may be that for some reason a new tower to carry the bells was needed and that he took advantage of a building that already existed in this place (it may have even been an earlier bell-tower) and either heightened it or remodelled the upper part, as well as inserting the great north window, a very remarkable feature in a tower.
In the absence of any known plan, whether by excavation or record, of the ancient Priory Church, it is reasonable to suppose that it followed the normal Benedictine cross-shape plan, standing entirely east of, but conjoining, the parish nave, with the nuns' quire in the west arm, as at Nuneaton, a central tower, presbytery, and transepts, the cloister being to the south of the nuns' quire (or nave) in the usual manner. A 12th-century doorway which still survives just east of the present nave (and south of the modern chancel) would therefore have been the entrance from the north end of the western alley. Another surviving doorway farther east in a wall returning southwards marks the cloister as being about 75 ft. from east to west, and was an entrance from the cloister into the south transept. In line with, and farther south of, the latter doorway was formerly the entrance to the Chapter House, which was in existence up to the early 19th century, but has now entirely disappeared. Taking the Nuneaton plan as a parallel, it is probable that the presbytery and transepts were comparatively short. The west range met the east end of the south wall of the present nave and probably the Abbess's Lodgings stood west of it on the site of the present Vicarage. After the Suppression the whole of the abbey church, except for the doorway mentioned, disappeared.
The parish church that was retained suffered many vicissitudes afterwards. In the 18th century the south and southern part of the east wall of the tower had to be rebuilt in part. The south wall of the western half of the nave was also rebuilt and furnished with roundheaded windows of the period. In 1869 a very drastic restoration was carried out. The round-headed windows were replaced by others, much of the north arcade was rebuilt with new masonry, new roofs were provided, and the present chancel was added. All the north windows were renewed and a porch added. This became a vestry in 1922, so that the only public entrance now is the small west doorway. The south archway into the tower from the chancel is also modern. The west arch from the aisle was perhaps a 14thcentury opening but is now entirely of modern masonry. The chancel, of 1869, has an east window of five lights and two high south windows, each of two lights, all of 13th-century style. In the north wall is a modern archway to the tower with splayed responds 6½ ft. thick. The chancel arch is two-centred.
The nave (about 78 ft. by 21 ft.) has a north arcade of eight approximately 9½-ft. bays dating from the 12th century. The pillars are cylindrical, 2 ft. diameter, and have scalloped square capitals with grooved and chamfered abaci. The bases are rounded and stand on square sub-bases. The east respond is square. The west respond is an original whole pillar partly buried in the west wall. The half-round heads are of one square order. Most of the arcade is of modern stonework, but ancient work survives in the east respond, the two easternmost pillars, the easternmost and second arch and two-thirds of the third arch; also the western pillar-respond and part of the westernmost arch. The walling between the arches is of red sandstone squared rubble. Above the arcade is the 12th-century clearstory, now inclosed by the aisle. It has eight unglazed roundheaded windows with splayed jambs and rear-arches. The clearstory wall is of tooled ashlar.
Of the south wall the easternmost 33 ft. is thicker than the rest and has an ancient shallow wide buttress at each end of it. This bay, which is of ancient rough coursed ashlar with a chamfered plinth, may mark the former west range of the claustral buildings. The upper part of the wall in the bay sets back outside and is also of old masonry. In it are set three old windows. The middle one is a 13th-century lancet with a chamfered segmental-pointed rear-arch; the sill has been lowered in modern times. The other two are of c. 1340, of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights below square heads with tracery differing slightly one from the other. Between the lancet and the eastern inside is a recess, apparently indicating a blocked doorway, but there is no trace of it outside. Under the western is a plain square piscina with a square basin.
The three windows in the western part of the wall are modern replacements, each of three lancet lights. At the west end of the wall is a private doorway from the vicarage. A former round-headed doorway near the east end of this wall, probably of the 18th century, is indicated only by modern patching outside.
In the west wall is an inserted late-15th-century window of four cinquefoiled lights below a transom and restored vertical tracery in a two-centred head. The hollow-chamfered jambs and arch and the hoodmould with volute stops are original. The wall is of old tooled rough ashlar up to the base of the gable, which is modern. The north aisle is of the same length as the nave.
In the north wall are four modern windows, and the north doorway is also modern. In the west wall, not quite central, is a window of two cinquefoiled pointed lights and a quatrefoiled spandrel in a twocentred head with a hood-mould. It has 14th-century chamfered jambs and arch; the rest has been restored. In the west doorway, 3 ft. 10 in. wide, with jambs and pointed head of two chamfered orders, is a pair of ancient battened doors hung with original ornamental strap-hinges with scrolled branches.
The north wall east of the porch is of ancient grey ashlar below the windows and has a chamfered plinth. It is divided into three bays by shallow buttresses, of which the lowest four courses are ancient. From the sill-levels up to the window-heads the walling is retooled ashlar and above that it is modern. The unpierced westernmost bay, beyond a similar buttress west of the porch, is all of similar old masonry as below the windows. The west wall is of similar ashlar up to the base of the modern gable and has a chamfered plinth of two courses. The buttress in line with the north wall is of 15th-century pink sandstone and has a larger plinth that returns 6½ ft. along the north wall. Under the west window is an early low buttress with a gabled head, indicating possibly the width of the original aisle (9 ft.). Between the aisle and nave walls is a very large buttress of the 15th or 16th century. At the top of it is a large grotesque corbel supporting a long water-spout. The aisle wall is about a foot thicker than that of the nave and the face sets back above the large buttress. The roofs are modern. The massive north-east tower (15½ ft. square) is built of grey rubble and ashlar of various periods (detailed below). At the angles, except the southeast, are diagonal buttresses of fine ashlar reaching to the parapet and finishing with crocketed gables. The south-western is carried on a corbel carved with a grotesque face at the top of the nave wall. The plinth of the north wall and buttresses has a moulded top course of the 14th century. That of the east wall is hollow-chamfered and perhaps earlier. The west archway towards the aisle has splayed responds and a twocentred head of four chamfered orders, perhaps of 14th-century origin, but all restored. The south archway, towards the chancel, is modern. This wall is thicker (6½ ft.) than the others (4½ ft.). There is said to be a stair-vice in the south-west angle, now sealed up; probably it projected 2 ft. southwards and the new north wall of the chancel was built flush with it.
In the north wall is a very tall window of the 14th century rising two stories; it is of three cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and restored net tracery in a twocentred head; it also has a transom at half-height, below which the lights have cinquefoiled pointed heads. The tower wall below and up to half the height of the lights above the transom on either side is thicker than the upper wall and is capped with a moulded weather-course which is continued down the sides of the window and passed below the sill about a yard above the plinth. Within the moulding the jambs of the window externally are of three moulded orders (the middle wave-moulded). Internally the splays are brought out to square with a hollow and have a wavemoulded outer order. The hood-mould has humoresque head-stops. The floor of the second story cuts across the window.
The bell-chamber windows in the north and west walls are of two trefoiled lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the jambs and arches, of three chamfered orders, are 14th-century, the mullions and tracery modern. The east wall has two and the south wall three tall narrow square-headed lights of the 18th century. In the east wall is a broken seam marking the north jamb of the destroyed original window and two or three voussoirs of its arch. The parapets, probably also of the 18th century, are pierced by ranges of narrow slits and above these they are battlemented. Below the parapet in each face is an octofoil panel containing a shield charged with two bars, for Herthill.
The north wall is of ancient grey stone rubble (coursed below the window where it is of later repair) up to the apex of the great window. Above that level it is of late-14th-century fine ashlar like the buttresses. The west wall is of like ashlar above the aisle roof. The east wall is of similar ancient rubble in the lower part from the north-west buttress up to a vertical seam about 6 ft. from it: south of that it is of 18th-century ashlar and has an 18th-century moulded string-course approximately level with the apex of the great north window. Above this string-course the north half is of the late14th-century ashlar and has the jamb of the blocked window, and the south half of 18th-century ashlar with the rectangular lights. The south wall up to the west buttress is all of 18th-century work above the contiguous roofs. The ground floor of the tower is used as a sacristy, and its pavement is 28 in. above that of the nave and aisle. The internal wall faces are of ancient rubble.
Immediately east of the nave, against the south wall of the modern chancel, stands the 12th-century doorway to the former nuns' quire or nave from the cloister. It is now very weather-worn, with jambs of two square orders (the nook-shafts missing) and a round head also of two orders, the outer with zigzag ornament, and a hood-mould. The 11-ft. stretch of wall in which it is set is of yellow grey sandstone and stands about 16 ft. high. It has a heavy plinth of three or four chamfered courses. East of this the old wall, about 10 ft. high, is only 18 in. thick and continues eastward for about 75 ft. from the nave wall up to a right-angle bend southwards (the east wall of the cloister). It is of rubble work and has two buttresses, one deep and one shallow, south of the chancel, which is built independently of the wall. In the short east wall (about 23 ft.) is a late-14thcentury doorway with moulded jambs and fourcentred head with a hood-mould having head stops.
In the second bay of the arcade is a late-14th-century high-tomb, probably of Sir Richard Herthill. It has mutilated sides with quatrefoiled square panels containing shields and divided by trefoiled narrow panels. The edges of the top slab have had the former carving hacked away. The shields are charged with two bars on four of them and a cinquefoil on the other four.
On the tomb is laid the remarkable stone recumbent effigy of an abbess of the 13th century. It is carved in the solid from a tapering slab 5 ft. 10 in. long by 1 ft. 8 in. wide at the top and 1 ft. 4 in. wide at the bottom. Although perhaps worn down a little, it must have always been in fairly low relief. The robe is shown in straight stiff pleats and she has long hanging sleeves. In her right hand she holds a pastoral staff, shown as resting on the body in exact line with the pleats. In the left hand is a book, also resting on the body. The head has a veil and wimple, but wear has destroyed the features. It rests on two cushions, and at her feet is a small running hart.
In the third bay is an early-15th-century alabaster recumbent effigy of a lady, ascribed to Isabel wife of Sir John Cockayne of Pooley Hall, died 1418. The head is covered with a net and pearls, and has richly netted side pads or boxes and an embroidered crest wreath with a partridge and wheat-ear and vine leaf ornament. About the neck is a small chain. She wears a close cote hardie with tight sleeves (the hands in prayer), over this a sideless gown, and over all an open mantle tied across the breast with cords, knotted and pendant. Two small angels (one headless) support her pillows, and at her feet are two pet dogs, both now headless. The base has a moulded top with foliage paterae. The sides are panelled in quatrefoiled circles in squares and have shields once painted with the Astley, Herthill, and Cokayne Arms. There are some traces of gilding on the effigy.
A mural tablet at the east end of the aisle is to Frances, wife of Michael Biddulph; died 22 June 1670. (fn. 251)
The six bells (fn. 252) include three by George Oldfield of Nottingham, the fourth of 1667, fifth 1654, and tenor 1664. The second is of 1740 by A. Rudhall, the third of 1776 by Pack and Chapman, and the treble of 1896 by Taylor & Co. of Loughborough.
The church of Poles worth was granted to the abbess and convent of Polesworth, with the manor, by Robert Marmion and his wife Millicent, and confirmed to them by Robert son of Robert and Millicent. (fn. 253) It was valued at £14 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 254) and the vicarage was assessed at £10 in 1535. (fn. 255) After the suppression of the nunnery the advowson of the vicarage appears to have been retained by the Crown, which presented from 1625 (fn. 256) onwards. The patronage remains in the hands of the Lord Chancellor, (fn. 257) although presentation is now made by him on the nomination of the trustees of Sir Francis Nethersole. (fn. 258) The mission church of St. John at Birchmoor is attached to this parish and served by the clergy of Polesworth.
The ecclesiastical parish of Warton was formed in 1849 from that of Polesworth, and the patron is the vicar of Polesworth. (fn. 259)
There has been a church in Dordon since 1868, and in 1932 the ecclesiastical parish of Dordon with Freasley was constituted, the patronage being in the hands of the vicar of Polesworth. (fn. 260)
The RECTORY of Polesworth, with tithes in Polesworth, Warton, Freasley, Hall End, and Dordon, late of Polesworth monastery, (fn. 261) was leased in 1552 by the Crown to Florence Clifford, widow, for 21 years at a rent of £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 262) The tithes of Bramcote had been leased to Thomas Burdett in 1538 by the abbess of Polesworth for 90 years. (fn. 263) In 1564 Queen Elizabeth sold the reversions of the rectory on the expiry of all these leases to Henry Goodere and Clement Throckmorton. (fn. 264) The rectory then descended with the manor of Polesworth at least until 1661. (fn. 265) Various holders appear to have laid claim to the advowson of Polesworth, (fn. 266) but there is no evidence that they exercised any right of presentation.
Charities of Beck and others. In June 1719, in consideration of £38 10s. paid by the churchwardens and overseers and a further sum of £35 paid in full discharge of a mortgage, 4 acres in Barwell were granted in trust for the poor of the parish of Polesworth. The money arose principally from the following charities:
William Hall by will dated 4 December 1756 gave £20, the interest to be laid out in bread, 2s. worth weekly. Anne Shawe in 1761 left to the poor £15, and the Rev. Nathaniel Troughton in 1789 left £10 to the same use. The three bequests now produce a yearly income of £1 4s.
The Rev. William Madan, who died in 1824, gave £100, the interest to be expended annually in the purchase of Bibles. The legacy now produces £2 14s. annually, which is given away in Bibles, prayer-books, &c.
Charity of Frederick, Earl Beauchamp. By an Indenture dated 7 May 1878 Earl Beauchamp gave land containing 1,210 sq. yards fronting on the road leading from Wilnecote and Hall End to Polesworth for charitable purposes. The land is let at a fair rent which is applied for the benefit of the poor.
George Neale by will dated 12 April 1631 gave £20, the interest to be distributed to the poor of Polesworth in sums of 1s. each. The charity is now regulated by a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 14 March 1902, appointing five trustees, and directs the income to be applied for the benefit of the poor of the parish in subscriptions or donations in aid of any dispensary, infirmary, hospital, or convalescent home, or contributions towards the provision of nurses for the sick and infirm. The endowment, amounting to £3 per annum, is given to Polesworth Nursing Association.
Elizabeth Ross in 1905 (being anxious to benefit the really deserving and needy poor of Polesworth) paid to the vicar £100, the interest accruing therefrom to be paid for tickets for suitable Convalescent Homes or Hospitals for such deserving persons as are recommended by a doctor and are resident in the parish. The interest amounting to £4 13s. 6d. is applied in the purchase of convalescent home tickets. Five trustees are appointed under a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 26 May 1922.
Sir Francis Nethersole's Charity, founded by deed dated 10 March 1655. (fn. 267) By an order of the said Commissioners dated 12 December 1906 it was determined that the whole of the endowment of the charity should be held for educational purposes, with the exception of property containing 190 acres or thereabouts which should form the endowment of a separate charity to be called the Ecclesiastical Charity of Sir Francis Nethersole for the benefit of the Vicar of Polesworth. The lands have been sold, and the endowment is now represented by various stocks producing a yearly income of £390 approx. which is paid to the Vicar of Polesworth.