A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4, Hemlingford Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1947.
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Shuttington is a long narrow parish, 3 miles from north to south with an average width of between ¾ and ½ mile, lying west of Polesworth and Seckington and south of the Staffordshire border. The church and village stand centrally on the highest ground, at about 280 ft., and from here the land falls fairly sharply westwards to the River Anker, which is here bridged. The bridge at this point was known in 1650 as Black Bridge, (fn. 1) and in 1670, when orders were given for its repair by the county at a cost of £260, as Broken Bridge. (fn. 2) Half a mile south-east of Shuttington Bridge is another bridge (fn. 3) over the Anker, close to Alvecote Mill.
There was a mill in Shuttington in 1086, (fn. 4) and in 1221 Robert de Bramcote complained that the Prior of Alvecote had drowned his land by raising the mill pool. (fn. 5) The mill is mentioned in 1291 as worth 14s. (fn. 6)
South of the mill pool, and now separated from it by the Trent Valley branch of the L.M.S. Railway and the Coventry Canal, is the site of Alvecote Priory. Very little of it survives, and there is no trace of the original plan. The dwelling-house on the site is a rectangular building of the 18th century with walls of ashlar; in its south wall is incorporated a 14th-century doorway, with moulded jambs and pointed head, and some of the masonry of the wall east of it appears to be much more ancient than the remainder of the house.
East of the north half of the house is a wall a few feet high, apparently the south wall of the nave of a ruined chapel of the 13th or 14th century. (fn. 7) It is about 30 ft. long and has a diagonal buttress of yellow ashlar at its east end and a short return east wall with the south jamb of a low arch (chancel arch ?) and a few voussoirs of what may have been a semicircular head. In the middle of the south face of the wall is a shallow buttress dividing it into two bays. In the east bay was a small window and in the western a doorway. The west end of the wall is broken.
A 16th-century barn west of the house retains some timber-framing with curved braces below the wall-plates. The roof-trusses have, on shaped story-posts, cambered tie-beams supported by curved braces and carrying king-posts that rise to the ridge. The side purlins have curved wind-braces.
Before the Conquest the 5-hide vill of SHUTTINGTON was divided, half being held by Godric and Celred, and the rest by Godric alone. Each moiety was entitled to half the mill and half the wood. After the Conquest, the whole went to the Count of Meulan, Godric holding one moiety from him and one Lewin the other. (fn. 8)
On the foundation of Alvecote Priory in 1159 the manor of Shuttington was presented to it by William Burdet, who had obtained it from the Earl of Leicester, the son of the Count of Meulan. (fn. 9)
The manor remained with this priory until the Dissolution. In 1543 Henry VIII granted (fn. 10) to Lord Chancellor Audley, in exchange for other lands, 'the house or late priory or cell of Avecote alias Alvecote', with all its possessions, to hold as 1/20 part of a knight's fee by rents of 44s. 6½d.
In June of the same year Lord Audley was granted (fn. 11) a licence to alienate the same to Joan Robinson widow of George Robinson, mercer of London. After her death it passed to her son William (fn. 12) and then to her grandson Thomas. (fn. 13) In 1566 he held the manor, rectory, and tithes, with 12 messuages, 5 cottages, one dove-cote, one water-mill, lands, and rents. (fn. 14) Within the next ten years this Thomas appears to have got into financial difficulties. He entered into various transactions concerning Shuttington, culminating in an alienation of the manor in 1575 to Richard Paramore, merchant tailor of London. (fn. 15) Fifteen years later Sir Francis Willoughby brought an action against him for that he unlawfully made over his assets to the said Richard Paramore to avoid paying his debts, and that this was not a genuine transaction, but merely designed to prevent the complainant from enjoying peaceful possession of the estates on foreclosure. (fn. 16) By that time, however, the lands had gone beyond recall, for, by 1579, the Earl of Leicester had purchased them from Paramore. In the same year the earl exchanged them to Queen Elizabeth. (fn. 17) A survey of this date shows that rents of free tenants brought in 12s. annually, rents of customary tenants £11 17s. 8d., and those of tenants at will £2 17s. 4d. The lands late of Alvecot cell were leased to tenants for a total rent of £81 16s. 8d., with rights of common and wood. In addition to this 'to this manour dothe belong a lete and a Lawe daye and is orderlye kept twyse in the yeare'. (fn. 18)
The Queen leased the manor in 1596 to William Blounte (fn. 19) and again in 1602 to Lettice, Countess of Leicester. (fn. 20) In 1609 Alvecote mill was leased separately to Edward Ferrers, mercer, of London. (fn. 21) In the course of the next twenty years there were other leases, notably another in 1617 to the Countess of Leicester, but these were all for short periods, and nothing important was done until 1629, when the manor was granted to Henry, Earl Holland, and other trustees in trust for Queen Henrietta Maria. (fn. 22) About this time the estate of just over 600 acres was valued at £210 13s. in a survey which gives the names of all the tenants, and also many field names. (fn. 23) At the time of the Common-wealth the lands were confiscated, and extremely detailed surveys were made both of the lands (fn. 24) and of the manor-house (fn. 25) which had been built on the site of the Priory: 'a mantion house . . . consisting of 9 rooms below stayers and 6 above', all the rooms and the garden being minutely described.
Previous to this the estate had been leased to Sir John Finch, afterwards Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, (fn. 26) and, in 1660, on his surrender was leased again to his wife Dame Mabel Finch. (fn. 27) When this lease expired others were made until, in 1697, William III granted the whole to Thomas, Lord Coningsby. (fn. 28)
On the death of Lord Coningsby in 1729 the manor went to his widow (and second wife) Margaret, (fn. 29) by whom he left two daughters. The elder, Frances, married Sir Charles Hanbury - Williams, and their daughter Frances married William, 4th Earl of Essex, (fn. 30) and the manor passed to their son, (fn. 31) so that in 1804, when an Inclosure Act was passed for Alvecote and Shuttington, (fn. 32) the Rt. Hon. George Capel Coningesby, Earl of Essex, was lord of the manor. He died in 1839 and the manor passed with the title to his half-brother Arthur Algernon, the 6th earl, who was lord in 1850. (fn. 33) His grandson is the present Earl of Essex, but the manor appears to be extinct.
The parish church of ST. MATTHEW is a small building standing on high ground overlooking most of the surrounding country on all sides. The nave dates from about 1150, with many later alterations. The chancel was rebuilt probably in the 13th century. The church was restored in 1844 and in 1908–9; the later medieval windows seem to have been removed and both chancel and nave furnished with windows of 12th-century type.
The chancel (about 18½ ft. by 11 ft.) has a modern east window of 12th-century style with external nook-shafts, &c., and the north and south walls each have a similar but smaller window. East of the southern are the remains of a 13th-century trefoiled pointed light. At the west end of the wall is a 14th-century window of two very narrow ogee-headed lights under a square head. The walls are mostly of small cream and grey rubble masonry with grey and yellow sandstone angle-dressings. The roof of two bays is modern and covered with tiles.
The nave (28 ft. by 17½ ft.) has two north and two south modern windows like the others. East of, and close to, the western south window a cutting has been made outside to reveal the inner order of the east jamb of an original 12th-century doorway, that had an edge-roll. It appears to have been buried at some medieval period by ashlar facing. There is also more of the ashlar facing at the east end, as well as the angle-dressings, but the wall is chiefly of rubble work with yellow and some very dark brown ironstone. Under the western north window there are straight joints and ashlar jambstones of a medieval doorway; no detail is visible by which it can be dated: it was also blocked by ancient ashlar. The north wall is mostly of yellow stone rubble, larger than that of the chancel, with east angle-dressings. A seam between the two modern windows suggests a former medieval window. (fn. 34) The west wall contains a 12th-century doorway, 5 ft. 3 in. wide, the only complete original feature surviving although much weather-worn. It has jambs of two orders with large edge-rolls and nook-shafts with badly decayed capitals and chamfered abaci. The round head is of three orders, the inner and outermost with edge-rolls continued from the jambs; the middle has a keeled edge-roll and cheveron ornament on both faces. The hood-mould is decorated with pyramidal floral paterae at intervals. The inner reveals have edge-rolls continued in the segmental-pointed rear-arch. On either side of the doorway outside are ashlar square pilasters capped by a string-course which is carried across to meet the hood-mould. Outside these at the top are trefoiled lights in pointed heads, probably of the 15th century, with square labels above them, and high up in the middle is a 13th-century window of two trefoiled lights and tracery in a two-centred head; it is apparently a resetting; being above the ceiling-level, it is not seen inside. The wall is of ashlar of the 15th century with a chamfered plinth that is carried round the north and south sides a short distance. The head is gabled, but has a semicircular top. The masonry, including the doorway, has been treated with thin cement washing. The gabled roof of two bays is modern. Above the west end is a clap-boarded square bell-turret with a pyramidal roof: it contains one bell of 1664 by George Oldfield of Nottingham.
The church of Shuttington was given by William Burdet in 1159 to Malvern Priory for the formation of the Priory of Alvecote. (fn. 35) It was appropriated to that cell before the end of the 12th century (fn. 36) and, at any rate in the 14th century, was served by the prior. (fn. 37) In 1535 the rectory was farmed at 72s., (fn. 38) and the church was presumably served by one of the monks of Alvecote, as there is no trace of any payment to a chaplain. When, however, the manor was granted to Lord Audley after the Dissolution, it was definitely charged with the payment of £6 annual stipend to the minister of Shuttington. (fn. 39) The living subsequently became a perpetual curacy, and later a vicarage, and remained in the gift of the lord of the manor until c. 1930, when it was conveyed to the Bishop of Birmingham. (fn. 40)
In the evidence (fn. 41) taken from various persons in connexion with a dispute over tithes in 1628, one deponent maintained that Alvecote was a distinct parish from Shuttington 'as she has many times seen the inhabitants of Shuttington perambulate their bounds and they never perambulate Alvecote'. This statement, however, was contradicted by other deponents who stated that, although possibly distinct once, the two parishes were then one. (fn. 42)
In 1653 Thomas Hill, a Nonconformist minister, became vicar of the sequestrated vicarage of Orton in Leicestershire. At the Restoration his predecessor was replaced, and Hill was presented by the second Earl of Chesterfield (the then lessee) to the perpetual curacy of Shuttington. Because he did not conform he removed from the parish later back to his house at Orton and provided a substitute. (fn. 43)
In 1672 Edward Boucher, Presbyterian, was granted a licence to preach at the house of Widow Allen in Shuttington. (fn. 44)
The Rev. John Piddocke by will dated 5 November 1828 gave £100, the interest, now amounting to £2 14s. 8d., to be distributed by the incumbent of Shuttington amongst the poor inhabitants of the parish.
The Rev. John Clarke in July 1716 granted to trustees all the tithes arising within Shuttington and all glebe lands and premises thereto belonging, for the use and maintenance of a minister for the church of Shuttington. The lands were sold in 1918 and the income amounting to £105 7s. 2d. is paid to the minister of the parish. Trustees of the charity are appointed by an Order of the Charity Commissioners.