A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4, Hemlingford Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1947.
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Barston lies in a bend of the river Blythe, which surrounds it on all sides but the north, where the boundary is formed by a small stream running eastwards into the Blythe. The southern extremity is a tongue of land separating Knowle and Balsall. There is no highroad passing through the parish, but a network of small roads meets where the village stands on a slight hill at 380 ft. from which the ground slopes down to 300 ft. at Barston Bridge, leading to Berkswell. The scenery is beautiful, though there is no woodland. The commons of the parish were inclosed in 1732. (fn. 1) There were in 1624 two of these commons, Barston Parke and Barston Marshe, and three common fields, in which the lands of the manors of Barston and Balsall were intermingled and only distinguishable by their tenures. (fn. 2)
The Domesday Survey mentions a mill here worth 4s., and among the villeins of the Knights Templars at Barston in 1185 (see below) were two millers. Two watermills are mentioned in 1588 as attached to the manor. (fn. 3) They may have been on the Blythe at Bradnocks Marsh, where a mill is shown on the 6-inch O.S. map.
The little village lies along a main street running east and west, north of the church, and contains about ten small ancient buildings of timber-framing, with tiled roofs. Unless otherwise stated they are of the 17th century.
A cottage on the south side, north-east of the church, is half of early-17th-century square framing with curved braces below the wall-plates and half of later rectangular framing with straight braces. Another farther east is rough-cast but shows some framing; and a third opposite, with a thatched roof, is of square framing and has a central chimney-stack.
Three interesting cottages west of the vicarage are of rectangular plan. One is of square framing of the late 16th century and has curved braces under the side wall-plates and the cambered tie-beams of the north and south gables. The gable-heads project on shaped brackets. A central chimney-stack has a square shaft. Another is obviously much earlier and has similar but larger curved braces. Half the lower story has early wide flat ceiling-joists, the other has a chamfered beam. The chimney-stack is on one side. The third is larger, of three bays in length, and shows square framing on the west side. It is now the War Memorial Institute.
The Bull's Head Inn opposite has a modernized front block covered with rough-cast cement, but a wing behind shows square framing. A central chimney-stack to the front block has reduced fire-places, but above the roof it is of four old square shafts.
Farther west at the corner of the road to Temple Balsall is a building of three conjoined parallel gabled wings, the middle of which has some old timber framing. A house opposite is of T-shaped plan: the north part, the head of the T, is of timber-framing, and some remains exist in the front part, which is mostly of brick. Another house behind it, east of Oak Lane, with a central chimney-stack, has square framing in its upper story.
About ¼ mile farther west, at the corner of a lane running south, is a lodge that has been much restored but has many early-17th-century timbers. The east and west ends have projecting gable-heads with stopmoulded bressummers on shaped brackets. A central chimney-stack is panelled.
Wharley Hall, at the crossing of the road from Hampton to Knowle and the Solihull road, is a rectangular building dated 1669 with the initials T. W. in a panel above the door-way. The walls are of red brick, the longer east side towards the road being divided into nine bays by square pilasters, and the north and south ends into three bays. The lower windows have moulded pediments of brick; the entrance in the east side has a wooden architrave and bracketed flat cornice. A central chimney-stack is panelled. There is also a timber-framed barn.
Eastcote House, north-west of it, belonging to the Fisher Charity Trust, also bears the date 1669 with the initials CF and TF. The house is like Wharley Hall, the south-east front being divided into seven bays and the original end walls into three. It also has a front porch with an arched entrance; this is modern but the reset inscription in the pediment is original.
'Eastcote Manor', opposite the last, is a late-16th-century house of rectangular plan facing north-west (called west in this description) with large later additions behind. The original part is of black and white framing. The front is all of close-set studding and has two large dormers (the southern modern) projecting on shaped brackets and with gabled heads. These are of square framing with half-round notches cut in the posts and rails to form quatrefoils. The north and south ends have herring-bone framing to the upper story; the gable-heads, projecting on stop-moulded bressummers and shaped brackets, are of similar quatrefoiled framing. The main windows are of oriel type on shaped brackets, mostly much restored. Two chimneystacks have square shafts with V-shaped pilasters, probably rebuilt. The fire-places have been reduced or altered and the interior generally completely renovated. There are some ancient roof timbers. The north and east sides of the modern additions are framed to match the original elevations.
Eastcote Hall, ¼ mile farther west, is an early- to mid-15th-century house that had a great hall, facing north and south, between an east solar and west buttery wing, making the plan H-shaped. The west wing was lengthened to the south by another bay about the end of the century, and in the 16th century the usual upper floor and chimney-stacks were inserted. In the 18th or 19th century the north front of the hall block was rebuilt and most of the lower story of the other parts refaced or rebuilt with brickwork. The hall consists of a 15 ft. east bay, a 9 ft. middle bay, and a 7 ft. screens passage. The main truss, between the bays, has an 18 in. chamfered and cambered tiebeam with hollow-chamfered curved braces forming an arch below it. The main post rises from the ground on the south side but has been cut short on the north. Above are plain posts below the collar beam &c. The other truss, to the screens, is of spere type, formed by outer and inner story-posts with framing between each pair, and having a middle arch below a curved cambered tie-beam. The side-purlins have curved windbraces. For head-room to a doorway part of the main tie-beam has been cut away. The middle truss of the east wing has a cambered tie-beam supported by curved braces of the same section as the main hall-truss: on it rests a chamfered longitudinal beam of the 16th century. The west wing has a curved cambered tiebeam carrying posts, and the purlins are wind-braced. Both wings show some of the original wide flat ceilingjoists to the lower story.
The hall block is of brick on the north with two (later) gabled semi-dormers. The entrance is in the original screens position and has an old nail-studded door. The south wall is of square framing. The two wings project about 5 ft. in front: the lower stories are of brick, but the upper stories have heavy vertical timbers set rather wider apart than the usual closestudding. The gable-heads have posts and collarbeams similar to the trusses. Some square framing remains in the west side of the west wing, but at the south end of both sides of it the lower story has close-set studding. The 16th-century chimney-stack inserted at the east end of the hall has a wide fire-place; above it are three diagonal shafts, rebuilt. Another chimneystack above the west wing has three similar old shafts. The north-east ground-floor room and north-west upper room are lined with early-17th-century panelling. A square moat filled with water surrounds the house, crossed by a modern bridge over the north side. In the inner north-west angle is a brick pigeon house.
A blind road leads to Walsal End, ½ mile east of Eastcote. Here are two 17th-century houses. One facing south has square framing and projecting gable-heads on curved brackets. The square central chimney-stack is panelled. The other facing west, now tenements, has been largely reconditioned. Both have timber-framed barns.
Barston Park Farm, on the road to Temple Balsall, is mostly rebuilt or refaced with 18th-century red brick, but has two gable-heads of older framing on the east front. A barn north of it also has some old framing.
BARSTON (Bertanestone) is entered in the Domesday Survey under the lands of Turchil of Warwick as assessed at 9 hides. Before the Conquest Ailmar held it and by the king's leave sold it to Alwin the sheriff, the father of Turchil. From Turchil it was held in pledge by 'R. de Olgi'. (fn. 4) This last name is probably a scribal error through confusion of two Roberts, for the entry is repeated under the lands of Robert Dispenser, with identical details, except that the hidage is given as 10 hides and there is said to be land for 10 ploughs (instead of for 11 ploughs, of which 1 was on the demesne, as given in the earlier entry). (fn. 5) At the end of the survey of Warwickshire is an entry—'Robert holds of the King ½ hide in Bercestone, and there he has 1 plough and a mill worth 20d. It is worth 20s. Turchil held it freely.' (fn. 6) This has been assumed to refer to Barston, (fn. 7) but the identification is very doubtful.
Robert Dispenser's lands here, as at Tamworth, passed to the Marmions, one of whom apparently gave a considerable estate to the Knights Templars. In 1185 they held land in Barston of the fee of Robert Marmion; the details show about 25 virgates (i.e. 6¼ hides) held by villeins, among whom were two millers and Ordric the potter (figulus). (fn. 8)
The Templars' estates were granted to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem about 1312, and thereby the Hospitallers acquired the whole of Barston; for Alan de Faleise, who held 1 knight's fee (presumably here) of Robert Marmion in 1166, (fn. 9) gave them half of Barston with park and wood before 1199, (fn. 10) and in 1208–9 Henry de Barford gave them 2½ hides in Barston, in exchange for an annuity of 10 marks for his life. (fn. 11) This part of Barston was granted in 1213 by the prior to Richard Parker of Ryton and Roger de Grendon, during the life of Henry de Barford, to hold in villeinage of the prior. (fn. 12) In a survey of the lands of the Hospital made in 1338 Barston is returned under the bailiwick (bajulia) of Grafton. There was then at Barston a messuage, a carucate of land, and meadow, worth 100s., rents of assize worth £10, and pasture for 200 cattle. (fn. 13) The bailiff there received a stipend of 13s. 4d.
Barston at the Dissolution was a member of Balsall. (fn. 14) As a late possession of this Preceptory it was granted in 1562 to John Fisher (fn. 15) and Thomas Dabridgecourt. (fn. 16) They sold it to Edward Aglion by, who was also farmer of Balsall manor. (fn. 17) According to a deponent in a suit of 1597 Barston was at that time part of Balsall manor; there was no manor-house at Barston nor any demesne land, and there was one constable and bailiff for the two places. Aglionby separated it from Balsall and set up courts at Barston, which the tenants were bound to attend for fear of losing their holdings. (fn. 18)
Aglionby sold Barston manor in 1588 to Arthur Atye and Richard Sutton, trustees of Robert, Earl of Leicester. (fn. 19) The earl also held the manor of Balsall, and the question arose as to whether Barston was really a separate manor. After the death of the earl, Lettice, Countess of Leicester, held Balsall as jointure, and in 1596 she and her husband Sir Christopher Blount claimed a tenement and mill in Barston as part of Balsall manor. A deponent on behalf of the tenant, Henry Casmore, stated that Barston was a separate manor, for which courts were held at the house of Thomas Thomas alias Pole, reputed to be the manorhouse. (fn. 20) This was apparently the case, for Barston no longer descended with Balsall. After some controversy in the courts with Sir Robert Dudley, illegitimate son of the late Earl of Leicester, claimant of all his estates, the trustees Atye and Sutton conveyed the manor in moieties, half to the Earl and Countess of Huntingdon, and half to the Earl and Countess of Rutland, representing the heirs-at-law of the late Earl of Leicester, Katherine, Countess of Huntingdon, being his sister, and Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland, being daughter of Sir Philip Sydney, son of Lady Mary Sydney, another sister of the earl. (fn. 21) The Countess of Huntingdon sold her moiety to Lord Sydney, of whom it was purchased soon after by Henry Harris of Droitwich. (fn. 22) Sir Robert Dudley made another unsuccessful attempt to obtain possession of the manor in 1603. (fn. 23) Henry Harris sold his share in 1611 to Sir Clement Fisher. (fn. 24) Evidently Sir Clement wished to purchase the whole manor, for in 1610 Thomas Screven wrote to the Earl of Rutland that he had agreed on the earl's behalf for the sale of Barston, as had he not accepted Sir Clement's offer at once it would have been withdrawn. (fn. 25) The sale of this half did not eventually take place, for on his death in 1619 Sir Clement held only half the manor, which then passed to his son Robert. (fn. 26) He was created a baronet in 1622, and sold this part of Barston to John Eyre in 1638, (fn. 27) who may have been acting for the Earl of Rutland, as in 1654 John, Earl of Rutland, sold the whole manor of Barston, otherwise Barston Escott, to William Willoughby. (fn. 28) Willoughby sold it in 1657 to William Strode. (fn. 29)
William Strode of Coventry left as one of his coheiresses Elizabeth wife of Philip Bedingfield of Ditchingham and she and Anne wife of Nicholas Reynardson, probably her sister, conveyed the manor in 1680 and 1681 to Henry and Robert Bedingfield. (fn. 30) Soon after this the manor passed to Richard Hopkins, who held it in 1694. (fn. 31) Richard was M.P. for Coventry at various times between 1660 and 1698 and was an active promoter of the Revolution. He died in 1707 and the manor passed to his son Edward, M.P. for Coventry and Secretary of State for Ireland. He died in 1736, and the courts that year were held in the name of his widow Anna Maria, guardian of their son Richard. Richard, who was also M.P. for Coventry, held courts in 1771 and 1788 and died without issue in 1799. His nephew General Richard Northey, third son of his sister Anne, succeeded him and took the name Hopkins in May 1799. (fn. 32) General Richard Northey-Hopkins died in 1845 and his son William Richard NortheyHopkins of Oving House, was owner of Barston in 1858. (fn. 33) His only son died on service in the Army, and it would appear that on the division of his property between his five daughters the manorial rights were allowed to lapse.
The court of the manor of Barston had testamentary jurisdiction; the wills proved there, of which the earliest surviving is of 1671, are preserved at Birmingham. (fn. 34)
The church of ST. SWITHIN was rebuilt in 1721 and consists of a chancel, nave, and west tower. The upper half of the tower is of later 18th-century date than the rest. There are also a modern north porch and vestry. The walls are of red brick with rusticated angle dressings and plinths of red sandstone. The roofs are tiled.
The chancel, 25½ ft. by 16 ft., has the original round-headed east window and a blank bull's eye window above it in the low-pitched gable-head, but the original side windows are walled up and replaced by pairs of modern lancet windows. The chancel arch and the roof are modern.
The nave, 45 ft. by 20 ft., has also had its original windows replaced by modern windows, two in each wall; the 18th-century north doorway has stone pilastered jambs, square imposts, and a round head with a key-block. The south doorway is blocked. The roof is probably original. It is of five bays divided by trusses with diagonal framing above the tie-beams.
The west tower, 12 ft. square, has similar but narrower east and west doorways, and side windows to the lower story with moulded architraves, plain imposts, and round heads. The upper half of the tower is of darker red brick than that of the lower. The bellchamber windows have plain stone-work, but the imposts do not project. The parapet is plain above a moulded string-course and has pilasters, wide at the angles and narrow in the middle. The four lowest courses of the tower walls inside are of re-used red sandstone: one has a medieval scratched sun-dial. A stair-vice projects in the north-east angle. Above the west doorway outside is a stone panel with a defaced inscription in Roman lettering. It is said to have read: 'Ecclesia haec propemodum diruta reaedificata fuit auxilio generoso hujus comitatus AC 1721.' (fn. 35)
One mural monument is to John Gough Fisher, son of Thomas Fisher of Springfield 1754. There are five bells: the first by William Bagley 1691, the second 1689 and the fifth 1683 both by Matthew Bagley. The third, uninscribed, may be of the 14th century, and the fourth, dated 1728, is by Joseph Smith. (fn. 36)
Barston was a chapelry of Berkswell (fn. 37) until 1894, when it was constituted a vicarage, the presentation to which was assigned to J. C. Gilbert. The patronage is now in the hands of trustees. Barston was apparently separated from Berkswell for a short time in 1662, when the patron and rector of Berkswell resigned all rights in the tithes of Barston in favour of Samuel Hunt then curate of Barston, who apparently became vicar of Barston. (fn. 38)
Lucy Bressie in 1647 surrendered to trustees 'the Town Close', to employ 2s. of the rents thereof towards the repair of the church and, after payment of chief rent and other taxes, to distribute the residue among the poor of Barston. Part of the land was sold in 1926 and the proceeds invested, producing £4 2s. 2d. annually. The remaining land, consisting of four gardens, is let at 10s. a year.