A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4, Hemlingford Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1947.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Population: 1911, 2,357; 1921, 2,535; 1931, 3,219.
Knowle, formerly part of Hampton-in-Arden, was constituted an ecclesiastical parish in January 1850. It is about 4 miles from north to south and 2 miles broad, lying between Solihull and Packwood on the west and Barston and Balsall on the east. The land lies mostly between 350 ft. and 400 ft., the village being on a slight hill (420 ft. at the church) above the Purnell's Brook which forms the western boundary; it lies upon a road from Warwick to Birmingham, where it is joined by a road from the east connecting with Balsall and Barston.
In the main street are a few buildings of the 17th century or earlier. Chester House on the east side is a much renovated timber-framed building of 15thcentury origin. The middle hall-block, between gabled cross-wings, was remodelled in the 16th century, when the upper floor was inserted, and was given a jettied upper story on the west front. Both stories on this front are of close-set studding and the upper has a moulded bressummer. At the north end of the wall is a moulded doorway that has lost its lintel. The end walls of the block are separate from, but close to, the sides of the wings. The back wall has square framing. The interior has chamfered beams, a wide south fire-place, and a roof of one bay with wind-braced purlins. The north side of the north wing shows original close-set studding to the upper story and a blocked window of four lights; the back half, of square framing, is a later extension. Inside, the front half has original wide flat ceiling joists, the back half later and smaller joists. The roof has wind-braced purlins. The south wing has a jettied upper story of close-studding with heavy curved braces to the tie-beam, but the lower story and the gable-head have been renovated. The side and back walls also show original timbers and the interior is similar to that of the other wing. The chimney-stack above the wide fireplace consists of four conjoined diagonal shafts built of thin bricks.
Four buildings on the east side of the main street, between Chester House and the church have visible remains of 17th-century timber-framing, either on the fronts or end walls.
On the west side, opposite the church and Gild House, is the former White Swan Inn, now (1939) unoccupied and threatened with demolition. (fn. 1) It is a late15th-century building with a hall-block between gabled cross-wings, and preserves many of its original features. The hall-block has never been heightened, although an upper floor and a central chimney-stack were inserted in the 16th century. The east front is plastered and has two gabled dormer-windows in the roof. It is of two bays, 16 ft. north and 12 ft. south; the roof truss dividing them has a highly cambered or arched tie-beam and the purlins have curved wind-braces. The north partition-truss has had most of its tie-beam cut away. The north wing is of close-set studding and has a jettied upper story to the gabled east front, on curved brackets and the ends of the floor joists: the lower angle-post has a pilaster below the bracket. The tie-beam is plain and supported by curved braces. Inside the lower story has original wide flat ceiling joists, and the roof-truss above has an arch below a collar beam: the purlins have curved wind-braces. The south wing is slightly more ornate in the gabled east front and may be somewhat later. The upper story projects and has a moulded bressummer on shaped brackets above pilastered posts: the gable-head also projects on curved brackets and has a stop-moulded bressummer. The two stories are of close-set studding, but the gable-head is of square framing with quadrant pieces. Internally only chamfered beams are exposed. At the back is a late-16thcentury chimney-stack with diagonal shafts of thin bricks. The wide fire-place in the central chimneystack has been half destroyed, an iron post displacing the east jamb. Above it is a plain square shaft. The roofs are tiled. Behind are 17th-century and later additions.
The Red Lion Hotel stands next but one south of the old White Swan Inn. It is probably of early-17thcentury origin, but has been much renovated. The plan is a middle block between two gabled cross-wings, facing east. The south wing has a jettied upper story of rectangular framing: some original wattle-and-daub infilling is exposed in the south side, and old framing shows in the north side-wall. Inside are open-timbered ceilings.
Next south is a small house, now partly shops, showing 17th-century framing in the gabled north end.
Farther south on the east side of the road, at the corner of a loop-road running east, is a larger house of late-16th-century date with many gables. The plan is approximately T-shaped. The west wing is gabled at its ends and has three gables on the west side towards the main road. The walls are plastered, except on the east side, where the upper story has herring-bone framing and a top range of square panels with foiled quadrant pieces. (fn. 2) The upper story of the north end is jettied on shaped brackets. The other block, running eastwards and forming the stem of the T, has three gabled bays, the easternmost jettied: the upper story of the western bay has framing similar to that in the wing. In front of the middle bay is a small gabled wing with plastered walls. At the east end of this block is a chimney-stack with two diagonal shafts. The central chimney-stack to the west wing has an ancient square base above the roof carrying four rebuilt detached octagonal shafts.
On the north side of the Balsall road east of the church is a house, 'The Cottage', showing some remains of late-16th-century framing, and 'Linby Cottage' nearly opposite has some 17th-century framing in the west gable-head. A barn near the former is also of 17th-century framing.
'The Wilson Arms', on the east side of the main street at the corner of the Eastcote road, dates from c. 1600. It is a very symmetrical building of square plan with two gabled bays on each side, all alike, but the west front has been refaced with brick. The other sides show the original square framing and projecting gable-heads with moulded bressummers on shaped brackets. The posts and rails of the gable-heads are treated with shallow semicircular sinkings to form quatrefoil patterns. The southern rooms have stopmoulded ceiling-beams; others are chamfered.
A cottage a little farther north on the same side is also of 17th-century framing.
The Gild House was the headquarters of the Gild of St. Anne, founded by Walter Cook in 1412, and must have been built then or soon afterwards. The building was originally a hall of three 12-ft. bays open from floor to roof. At a later date, probably in the 15th century, the upper floor was inserted, with wall-posts immediately against the sides of the original story-posts, and two posts between each pair to carry the crossbeam. The intermediate posts are octagonal and have capitals changing to square abaci, under the angles of which are broach-stops. The original story-posts are double-chamfered, with broach base-stops, and on their external faces they have square pilasters. The upper story is divided into chambers, and ceilings hide the upper parts of the trusses. These have, or had, heavy tie-beams supported by curved braces. The braces in the northernmost truss are 20 in. broad. The lower story has an open-timbered ceiling, some of the joists being wide laid flatwise, others are chamfered and some are modern, as is one of the octagonal posts. At each end are wide fire-places with modern chimney-stacks. The east wall externally shows close-set studding between the story-posts, curved struts from sill to storyposts, a rail at the first-floor level and another higher, above which is deep coving to the eaves of curved joists and plaster. The south end, towards the street, has been wholly restored; the gable-head is of timberframing; the wall below it is plastered and has on it a sun-dial dated 1810. The north end has square framing to the upper story and gable-head. The roof is tiled.
Grimshaw Hall, ½ mile north of the church, dates from c. 1560. It is a timber-framed house of two stories and attics, facing north-west (called west for this description), and has many gables. The plan has a main block about 44 ft. long between gabled crosswings projecting 5 or 6 ft. on the west front, the southern wing being wider than the northern. It also has a central porch-wing of two stories, gabled on three sides. North of the porch wing the main wall has a wide gable and south of it a smaller gable rising as a dormer. The south wing extends back about 16 ft., with a gable-end and a gable on each side. The main east wall has a small gable like that in the front. Another wing extends behind the wide gable of the front; besides its end gable it has two on its south side, one above a slightly projecting stair wing. The north side of the north wing also has a gable in line with the roof of the main block.
The treatment of the framing of the walls is variable. Excepting the north side and the north-east stair-wing the lower story is all of close-set studding. On the west front the upper story is of rectangular panels containing sloping pieces to form herring-bone patterns. In the other walls, and in the lower stories of the north side and stair-wing, the framing is of plain rectangles with brick infilling. The three main gable-heads of the west front and the smaller dormer project on moulded bressummers supported by shaped brackets; they contain square framing, each panel filled in with four quadrant pieces. The porch has an entrance of its full width; the sides of close studding are open at the top and fitted with symmetrical balusters. The upper story is jettied on the three sides with moulded bressummers on shaped brackets: the framing is a mixture of herringbone and quadrant patterns. The jettied gable-heads are treated with square panels having half-round notches cut in the posts and rails to give a quatrefoil effect. All the infilling on the west front is of plaster. The small gable in the back main wall and the two on the side of the north-east wing are similar to those of the porch. The gables on this side all project on shaped brackets.
Many of the windows have been restored. In the lower story the five-light window in the north wing of the west front has original moulded mullions; and the dwarf wing-lights to the window in the wide gabled bay of the main wall are also ancient. The south wing of this front has an oriel on shaped brackets. All the upper windows of the west front and in the ends of the two back wings are oriels on brackets; those to the porch wing are ancient. The oriel to the wide gabled west bay is, like its lower window, flanked by ancient dwarf wing-lights. The front entrance has an old door with bolection-moulded panels, drop knocker, and ornamental iron plate. Many of the rooms have opentimbered ceilings with chamfered beams. The main block has two rooms with a short passage between them from the entrance. The central chimney-stack next south of the passage has a moulded stone Tudor fireplace to the south room: this room is lined with late16th-century panelling having a carved frieze. The north room, once a kitchen, has a wide east fire-place with an oak bressummer. The room in the south wing is lined with somewhat later panelling; its south fireplace is modern, but in the same chimney-stack in the room above is a stone Tudor fire-place, and there is another in the central stack. This stack has two diagonal shafts above the roof: that over the old kitchen fire-place has four square shafts with V-shaped pilasters, and that projecting from the south side two similar shafts, all of thin bricks. In the south-east wing is the main staircase with 4-in. turned balusters and 5-in. balusters with large ball-heads. Under this wing is a later cellar of brickwork. Old framing shows in the upper partition walls, but the roofs are mostly renewed. They are covered with tiles.
North-east of the house is a late-17th-century pigeonhouse of red brick with a gable on each of its four sides. An old mounting-block of brick and stone stands by the porch, and in the grounds are two ancient yew-trees.
Dial House, formerly Heronfield, 13/8 miles southeast of the church, is a late-16th-century house facing south-west. The original main block of two stories and attics is of T-shaped plan, the stem projecting behind, and has a lower wing to the north-west, of two stories, the upper in the roof. This probably contained the original kitchen. Behind and northwest of it are later additions. The front of the taller part is all of close-set studding, and has a 15-ft. middle bay between two 9-ft. bays. The middle bay has a jettied upper story and jettied gable-head, both with moulded bressummers on shaped brackets. It has a middle oriel window (restored) to each story, flanked by dwarf side windows. The last are original, of four lights with diamond-shaped mullions and bars, and internally they retain the grooved side-posts in which the former sliding shutters worked. The four-light windows in the 9-ft. bays are also original, except the lower western which, being opposite the central chimney-stack, was probably the site of the original doorway. The lower extension has close studding to the lower story and square framing to the upper: above the eaves is a dormer-window with a jettied gable-head on a moulded bressummer. The south-east end is of square framing with a braced tie-beam. The gable continues down behind over a widening that contains the present entrance. At the back is a gabled wing opposite the front gable, the lower story of close studding, the upper of square framing.
The two main lower rooms, lighted by the front windows, have open-timbered ceilings with moulded beams. The eastern has an 8-ft.-wide fire-place in the central chimney-stack, with a moulded oak bressummer, and on one side an oven. The stack, above the roof, has two diagonal shafts and a square one with V-shaped pilasters. On it is an 18th-century sun-dial, from which the house is named. The roofs have been repaired, but some old smoke-blackened rafters are visible over the old kitchen-wing. The main staircase, now in the back gabled wing, is indigenous, but was formerly farther west. It has 5-in. flat-shaped balusters and square newels with ball-heads. In the floor are stones for former cheese-presses. The later addition next west, now the Library, is lined with 17th-century panelling, including the overmantel to the modern fire-place.
Springfield Farm, about 1 mile east of the church, is a small two-storied house of rectangular plan on three bays, facing north, dating from c. 1530–40. It has been partly restored, but original close-set studding remains in both stories of the north front and gabled west end. A modern wing has been added at the east end. Parts of the original roof trusses survive; one tiebeam retains a curved brace and the purlins have curved wind-braces. The main chimney-stack is at the west end and had a wide fire-place (now reduced), next to which is a cupboard with a pair of 16th-century ornamental hinges to the door.
Norton Green Farm, about 1 mile south of the church, is another building of the same type and age, preserving rather more of its original close-set studding to both stories. The west front had projecting windowframes carried on brackets, but these are now altered. Under the eaves of the front are four shaped brackets. The north and south ends are gabled, the latter treated with rough-cast cement. The chimney-stack is central and has three diagonal shafts of brick.
The Rising Sun Farm, Bakers Lane, 15/8 miles south of the church, said to have been formerly an inn, is a fairly large timber-framed building facing north. The plan has a main block about 42 ft. long, between gabled cross-wings projecting a little in front, and having a middle porch-wing.
The east wing, which extends behind so that it is as long as the main block, dates from c. 1500. The lower story is of brick but the upper story is mostly of the original close-studding. The gabled north front was jettied. The lower rooms have wide flat joists and chamfered beams to the ceilings, and the central chimney-stack has a wide fire-place with an early-16th-century moulded and cambered bressummer: near it is an original doorway, now blocked, with a triangular head; it led to a staircase. A roof-truss, with curved braces to the tie-beam, and purlins with curved windbraces are seen in the upper story. The main block, west wing, and porch wing are chiefly of square framing, but some of the early close-studding survives. The porch is now converted to a chamber with a baywindow. The rooms have open-timbered ceilings. The central chimney-stack has a wide fire-place. The roofs appear to be later than those of the east wing, the purlins have straight wind-braces. The chimney-stack over the east wing has two square shafts with V-shaped pilasters; that to the main block has two similar shafts and two diagonal shafts. There is also a 17th-century timber-framed barn.
Two cottages a little east of the Rising Sun, a small farm-house about ½ mile farther south, and another north of Norton Green are all of 17th-century timberframing. Several farmsteads with later houses retain 16th- or 17th-century barns, &c., including one at Knowle Grove House and another at Elvers Green Farm restored after a recent fire.
The first known reference to KNOWLE is in about 1200, when William de Arden granted the vill to his wife Amice de Traci for her life. (fn. 3) It continued to descend with Hamptonin-Arden (q.v.) until the death of William's grandson William, to whose widow Agatha it was assigned, as a manor, in dower in 1276. (fn. 4) By John le Lou and Amice his wife (co-heir of Arden) it was sold in 1284 to King Edward I and Queen Eleanor. (fn. 5) After the death of the queen the king gave the manor to Westminster Abbey as part of the endowment of a chantry for her soul. (fn. 6) After the dissolution of the abbey Knowle was granted in January 1541 to the Bishop of Westminster, (fn. 7) and on the suppression of that see in 1550 to the Bishop of London. (fn. 8) In 1559, however, the manor was taken into the hands of the Crown, (fn. 9) and in 1573 Queen Elizabeth granted it to Robert, Earl of Leicester. (fn. 10) On his death it reverted to the Crown and so remained until 1622, when it was granted to Sir Fulk Grevill, Lord Brooke. (fn. 11) The Fulk, Lord Brooke, who died in 1710 gave it to his second son Algernon, (fn. 12) whose son Fulk sold the manor in 1743 to William Smith. (fn. 13) His widow Henrietta in 1754 sold it to Benjamin Palmer, (fn. 14) on whose death in 1772 his distant connexion David Lewis (fn. 15) obtained the manor (fn. 16) —or more probably a moiety thereof, as after his death in 1773 it is found held jointly by his son Henry Creswold Lewis (died without issue 1829) and another Palmer relative, Mrs. Jane Ann Eleanor Wilson. (fn. 17) The lordship of the manor remained in the Wilson family (fn. 18) until 1887, when it was sold to Mrs. J. B. Clarke. It was later bought by Major S. G. Everitt, father of Horace George Everitt, the present lord of the manor.
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, ST. LAWRENCE, AND ST. ANNE consists of a chancel, nave with aisles and north transept, and a west tower. North of the chancel are modern vestries, &c.
The building dates from not earlier than 1396, when a faculty to found a chapel on his land was obtained by Walter Cook. The church was consecrated 24 February 1402, but it took probably another 20 or 30 years before the main lines of the building, as now existing, were finished. From an examination of the fabric the sequence of the development appears to have been as follows:
1. A chancel of three bays and nave of four bays, with perhaps the lower part of the tower.
2. The north aisle with the arcade, which was constructed from re-used material of the 13th century, probably from the former chapel. (fn. 21)
3. The south aisle with its arcade of five bays in red sandstone, overlapping the chancel for a chantry chapel. The east wall is built against an earlier chancelbuttress. Three of the windows and the white ashlar probably came from the nave wall, the rest being made up of red sandstone (Kenilworth stone).
4. The extension of the chancel one bay eastwards, for which Kenilworth stone was also used, probably after the licence was obtained in 1416 for the college of ten priests. There was a pre-existing lower building east of the church, evidently of too much importance to be destroyed, and the new bay filled up the whole of the available space; the lower part of the present east wall was either part of the other building or was built right against it, as it is not properly faced externally. The building was askew with the chancel, so that the upper part of the east wall had to be built on a different plane. The building prevented access from the north to the south of the churchyard and, probably for processional purposes, a vaulted subway was constructed below the new addition, and consequently the sanctuary was raised to an unusually high level.
5. The clearstory, of white stone, probably followed. It served both the old chancel (where the windows are lower) and nave, where it replaced the original lower roof.
6. The north transept or chapel off the westernmost bay of the chancel and incorporating on its west side a stairway to the rood loft. The archway towards the nave is later than any others of the medieval work, and it may not have been added before the latter half of the century. The east window, with mullions and tracery more sturdy than those of the north window, may have been the east window of the aisle re-used.
7. The upper stages of the tower differ in material from the lowest stage. The completion may have been delayed for a considerable period. The bell-chamber windows are the only windows that have hood-moulds.
In 1744 the south-east buttress of the chancel was added, and it was probably then that the lower east building was removed and the subway below the sanctuary blocked, the vault being destroyed and the sanctuary floor lowered. In 1748–9 a porch was added; it was removed in 1821 when the church was restored; it was presumably then that the west doorway was made in place of the blocked side doorways. The roofs were renewed, the lead-work, which was dated 1696, being removed. Further restorations were done in 1860, when the chancel-screen was moved one bay eastward to its present position, and in 1910, when the roofs were again restored and re-leaded in place of the slates of 1821. The organ chamber and vestries north of the chancel were added in 1900. (fn. 22)
The chancel (about 34 ft. by 22 ft.) is of three bays, the easternmost diminishing eastwards to 19 ft. The east window is of five cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and vertical tracery in a two-centred head. The window on each side in the canted easternmost bay is of four lights, the outer pair with cinquefoiled ogee heads; the inner pair have cinquefoiled pointed heads below a horizontal bar with trefoiled piercings above, in a two-centred head. The second windows are of three lights of similar design and date. The third window, in the south wall, is a lower one of three cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head. The north wall has a modern archway in this bay, to the organ-chamber. Below the west of the middle south window is a priests' doorway with moulded jambs and segmental-pointed head: the inner splays are partly white and partly red stone; the rear-arch all red. The lower part of the east wall outside is of rough unfaced yellow-white rubble with much mortar. It contains the blocked lower part of the east window, walled up with lias and red sandstone, the wall flanking it being of rough red sandstone with good angle-dressings. The upper part of the wall, with the window, is of red sandstone ashlar and is built on a different plane, setting back nearly a foot at the north end and projecting about 6 in. at the south end, so that here it overhangs the lower face. The wall is also ashlar-faced inside, but the lower part of the wall north of the reredos and the window up to about a foot above the sill-level is recessed, not having been refaced when the upper part was built. At the angles of the red sandstone wall are small diagonal buttresses, partly overhanging on the north-east angle. At the south-east angle of the lower part is a later large diagonal buttress of ashlar. The head of the wall is a low-pitched gable with a moulded string-course and parapet; above the angles are restored pinnacles and over the middle a modern gable-cross.
Buttresses divide the side-walls into three bays. The easternmost canted bays are of fine-jointed red ashlar and show outside the blocked four-centred archways, 6 ft. 9 in. wide, that gave entry to the former subway under the sanctuary; they have ogee-moulded jambs and heads. The middle south bay, with the buttresses flanking it, is of cream-white and fine-jointed Arden sandstone up to the sill of the window, and has no plinth. Above the sill-level the wall is of red ashlar, also including the buttresses. The west bay is of the Arden stone, coarsely jointed, up to about a foot above the head of the window, and has a chamfered plinth merging into the buttress east of it. The top of the wall is of red stone and has an embattled parapet with diagonal pinnacles above the buttresses, having gabled and crocketed finials. The north wall is covered by the modern vestry, but is otherwise similar, except that the parapet is not embattled.
The interior faces of the west bay are plastered, up to the clearstory; the remainder is red-ashlar faced. There is no chancel arch.
In the eastern bay and partly the middle bay are the piscina and sedilia, now high in the wall because of the lowering of the sanctuary floor; the piscina basin, now mutilated, is 6 ft. 5 in. above the floor. The recess has a trefoiled ogee-head with crockets and finial between panelled pilasters with pinnacles; at half height is a shelf. The lower seat of the three sedilia is 5 ft. above the floor. These have depressed ogee-heads with bratticing above; the easternmost seat and head are higher than the other two. In the western bay, mostly covered by the stalls, are remains of the former piscina and three sedilia, now forming shallow recesses: the head of the piscina (only part visible) was ogee trefoiled, now hacked away, in white stone. The three sedilia had ogee-heads; they are cut back, but the top cornice or string-course remains and has on its lower side the stumps of the former hood-moulds and pilasters.
The nave (about 64 ft. by 22 ft.) has on the north side an archway to the transept and west of it an arcade of four bays. The first has semi-octagonal responds of white stone with simply moulded capitals and bases and a very depressed four-centred arch, of 12 ft. 9 in. span. A 2-ft. length of wall divides it from the arcade, which has octagonal pillars (with responds to match). They have rather crude capitals, differing from those of the east arch and 2½ ft. lower: the bases are hollowsplayed; the courses are narrow. The arches, of about 9-ft. span, are acutely pointed, and of two chamfered orders with small and medium-sized voussoirs: the wall is only 2 ft. thick. The material is white stone, and the wall is plastered above, up to the clearstory. The south arcade is of five approximately equal bays in red sandstone; the pillars are octagonal with moulded capitals and tall bases and mostly in large courses: the arches are two-centred and of two chamfered orders. The wall above is of red ashlar up to the clearstory.
The clearstory includes the western bay of the chancel as well as the nave, and is of white stone. The two eastern windows on the north side, one over the organ archway, the other over the transept arch, lighted the original chancel and are each of three trefoiled lights under a four-centred head. The other four, central with the nave arches, are set higher and are each of three cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head. The south windows are similar, but the sill of the second is raised to the same level as those west of it. There are traces of a rough string-course at the base of the clearstory inside.
The parapets are embattled on the south side and plain on the north and are of red stone. They have diagonal pinnacles carried on corbels carved as winged monsters at the string-course and having restored gablets and crocketed finials; the north pinnacles are missing. Apart from the corbels most of the parapet string-courses are of white stone. The low-pitched roof appears to be modern, but may have a few old timbers re-used. It is divided into eight bays by chamfered main beams which are reinforced by short pieces under the ends and supported by curved braces on wood corbels.
The north transept (about 21 ft. deep by 13½ ft. wide) has a modern east archway, to the organ-chamber, and north of it a window of three trefoiled pointed lights and vertical tracery in a two-centred head. The north window is of three cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head. The mullions and tracery are thinner than those of the east window. Against the west side of the transept is a straight stair to the former rood loft: it is closed off, the bottom of it being now a cupboard entered by a four-centred doorway at the north end of the wall. The blocked upper doorway appears in the aisle opposite the 2-ft. pier between the transept arch and the arcade, but there are no visible traces of the way through into the nave, except perhaps cracks in the piaster. The walls are of grey-white ashlar with lias repair at the top. The plinth has a moulded top member and a hollowchamfered lower member. The north wall has original buttresses at the angles, and a low-pitched gable. The staircase projects on the west side and has the same plinth; the top of the wall slopes with the stair.
The roof is of two bays, and has three cambered tiebeams, with hollow-chamfered mouldings, supported by wall-posts and curved braces. The bays are divided into four by two compartments by moulded ribs with carved bosses at the intersections; the rafters are wide and flat.
The north bay is fitted as a chapel for a memorial of the Great War of 1914–18 and has a modern screen: the roof timbers of this bay are painted and gilded.
The north aisle (12½ ft. wide) is divided by the old north buttresses into four bays; the easternmost, second, and fourth have windows, each of three trefoiled twocentred lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head. In the third bay is a blocked four-centred doorway. The west wall has a small rectangular piercing, high up.
The north wall, cemented inside, is of coursed ashlar in grey-white stone and has a chamfered plinth and an oversailing chamfered course below the eaves gutter. The west wall, although faced inside with coursed square rough ashlar of one period, is of more variable treatment externally: it meets the north-west angle of the nave with a rough vertical seam. Above the plinth are four courses of grey-white rough ashlar right across. Above these is another vertical seam approximating with the inner face of the north wall, and between the two the masonry is of roughly squared lias rubble, containing the small light, and probably of 16th- or 17th-century repair and perhaps indicating a former window. The short length of nave wall is of roughly squared large stones; the west end of the clearstory above sets back from it.
The roof is ancient; it has chamfered beams dividing it into four bays, and a middle purlin; the rafters are wide, laid flatwise.
The south aisle (14 ft. wide) has an east window of three lights, the outer two cinquefoiled pointed, the middle trefoiled ogee-headed, with vertical tracery in a two-centred head: the jambs are of white stone, the head of red. North of it is a round-headed doorway of the 17th or 18th century, walled up with red sandstone. The south wall is divided by the buttresses into five bays, with a window in each. The easternmost resembles the east window, and the next three are like those in the north aisle. The westernmost, similar to the east window, is modern: below it are the outlines of the jambs of a blocked doorway and in the plinth are notches where the former timber porch met the wall. The west window is of three cinquefoiled ogeeheaded lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head: the wall below it thickens 3 in. inside.
The walls are of grey-white ashlar patched, especially in the upper parts, with red sandstone, and have chamfered plinths except in the west, where is merely a square footing. The buttresses, diagonal at the angles and square between, are of two stages and carry pinnacles like those of the clearstory with winged monsters at the parapet string-course, all of red stone with the embattled parapets. The east wall is flush with the side of an original chancel-buttress of white stone, with which it makes a straight joint; the blocked doorway cuts half into it. The west wall also meets the original south-west buttress of the nave which projects beyond it. It is of rough-tooled white ashlar and has at the top an oversailing course, above which is a (reset?) stone with three trefoiled gabled faces. Two small sundials are scratched on south buttresses; one, well developed, is on the east face, evidently a re-used stone from the former south wall of the nave. Below the south-east window is a plain four-centred piscina with a round basin, and west of it a plain rectangular locker. The roof resembles that of the north aisle, but the chamfered rafters may be mostly modern.
The west tower (about 10½ ft. square) is of three stages. The lowest is built of cream-white (Arden sandstone) ashlar in fairly large courses, the upper two are of grey-white ashlar. The plinth has a moulded upper course nearly like that of the north transept, mostly cut away on the west side. At the west angles are diagonal buttresses of six stages reaching nearly to the parapet string-course. The south-east stair-vice projects on the south side and is built of the cream stone to about seven or eight courses higher than the remainder; above that it is of the grey-white stone to the base of the bell-chamber, where it has a sloping stone roof: the entrance is modern, the original entrance inside the tower being blocked. The parapet is embattled and has the stumps of former pinnacles; the moulded string-course has carved gargoyles.
The archway from the nave has jambs and twocentred head of two chamfered orders. Above it is a line made by the earlier and lower low-pitched roof of the nave, and a blocked square-headed doorway which opened on to it.
The west window is of three trefoiled lights and vertical tracery in a two-centred head; the sill has been raised to clear a modern doorway. On the south side is a two-light square-headed window below the upper string-course.
There are no windows in the second stage. The bell-chamber has windows, each of two cinquefoiled pointed lights and foiled spandrel in a two-centred head with a hood-mould, having stops carved as crawling beasts.
The communion table is a modern remodelling of an Elizabethan table. It was about 4 ft. 2 in. long and was lengthened to 7 ft. 7 in. by bringing the sides to the front and remaking the back. The legs are of the typical carved bulbous form, and the top-rail carved with scroll ornament.
The font, of the 15th century, is octagonal with moulded lower edges to the bowl, plain stem, and moulded base; the sides of the bowl have quatrefoiled square panels and cement repairs where the former staples existed.
The chancel-screen is of late-15th-century date with some modern repairs. It has a middle opening with two bays of foiled ogee arches with rosette cusp-points, and tracery. On each side of it are four bays with similar tracery-heads but uncusped arches. They have upper and lower moulded middle rails with tracery-panelled faces and between the rails a frieze variously traceried in each bay. The close panels below them have a pair of traceried heads to each bay. The moulded posts had sloping chases or mortices cut in the sides immediately above the rail, probably for book boards. The head, canopied on the west side, has applied modern tracery to the soffit, but at the tops of the posts are the basepieces of the moulded ribs to the former fan-vault below the loft. The moulded west cornice is modern, but the top rail towards the east is old.
East of the screen are the collegiate stalls, reset from farther west. There are six on the north side and five on the south: they are divided by moulded standards shaped for elbows. These have shafts with moulded caps on the front edges below the elbows, and moulded top-rails or cappings rounded on plan for the seats. On the front edge of a south standard is carved a sprig or plant below the capping. The cuttings and joints in the seats show that they were originally with three stalls backing the screen and facing east, the standards being mitred where they met the side-stalls. The seats are hinged and have misericords on the undersides. The easternmost on the north side is carved with a lion and foliage on the bracket and a hart and unicorn at the sides. The opposite south bracket is carved with an ape in a monk's hood and with beasts resembling bears at the sides. Four of the others have foliage on the brackets and leaves at the sides and the remaining five have uncarved brackets between side leaves.
There are two dug-out chests; one, 7 ft. 7 in. long, has a curved lid with four out of the original five straphinges and three locks. The other, 5 ft. 1 in. long, has a curved lid with four strap-hinges and one lock.
In the floor of the nave before the chancel-screen (and therefore originally in the chancel) is a circular slab, 4 ft. 2 in. diameter, of grey marble with the indent of a figure and inscription, a scroll from his mouth, probably a Trinity above, a shield on either side and perhaps a circular marginal inscription, all rather badly worn. The slab is reputed to be the gravestone of Walter Cook, Canon of Lincoln, &c., who died in 1423 and desired to be buried in the chancel of Knowle before the image of St. Anne.
Another slab has the indents of a man and two wives, children and shields. (fn. 23)
On the pulpit is an hour-glass of oak with three spiral supports; the sand runs for 20 minutes. On the top is a silver plate inscribed: 'This hour-glass was made by W. Needler in 1673 and was given back to Knowle Church by A. D. Melson of Lapworth in 1929.' (fn. 24)
In the tower are refixed two ornamental wrought iron brackets, with shelves inscribed 'Ex dono Antonii Holbeche, 1717'. On these are carved figures of a lion and unicorn.
Loose in the nave is a sheet of lead from the nave roof, dated 1696, and in the south aisle is a piece of a moulded string-course of a parapet with a monster gargoyle.
The communion plate is modern, except for a silver gilt paten, on a circular foot, made by Anthony Nalme and bearing the date 1703.
There are six bells of 1897 by James Barwell, and two others (the treble and second) by Taylor of Loughborough added in 1931, when the seventh was recast. (fn. 25)
The registers date from 1682, and there are churchwardens' accounts from 1673.
When Sir William de Arden made over to the Priory of Kenilworth in about 1220 his rights in the church of Hampton the canons agreed that he and his heirs might have divine service in their chapel of Knowle, (fn. 26) and this manorial chapel is referred to in 1381 as the oratory of the Abbot of Westminster. (fn. 27) But Knowle remained part of the parish of Hampton until in 1396 Canon Walter Cook, a member of a local family and a wealthy pluralist, (fn. 28) obtained licence from Pope Boniface IX to build on his parents' land a chapel, with belfry, bell, font, and churchyard, on the ground that it was difficult for the inhabitants of Knowle to reach the church of Hampton in bad weather. (fn. 29) The chapel was consecrated in 1402, in which year Master Walter and his father Adam Cook had royal licence to found therein a chantry, (fn. 30) of which the advowson was conveyed to the Abbey of Westminster in 1404. (fn. 31) Subsequently, in 1416, seven years before his death, Walter Cook combined with Elizabeth widow of John, Lord Clinton, with the intention of founding a college of ten secular priests in the chapel of Knowle; (fn. 32) but it is clear that sufficient endowments for such a scheme were never available. (fn. 33) At the suppression of the chantries and collegiate churches in 1547 the Commissioners reported that the chapel ought to be left standing, as the parish church of Hampton was 2 miles distant and separated by 'a greate and daungerowse water' (the River Blythe) which was impassable in winter. (fn. 34)
The benefice became a perpetual curacy and the advowson passed with the manor, William Smith presenting in 1745 (fn. 35) and Benjamin Palmer in 1766. (fn. 36) On the death of Palmer in 1772, however, it was retained by his widow Elizabeth (Knight), who married Charles Baldwyn of Aqualate (Salop.) and died in 1812; she presented in 1782, and her trustee Edward Knight in 1783 and 1785. (fn. 37) He is named as patron in 1822, (fn. 38) as was Henry Greswolde Lewis at his death in 1829, (fn. 39) and J. W. Unett in 1850. (fn. 40) In that year Knowle was constituted a separate ecclesiastical parish. The patronage of the vicarage is now held by H. G. Everitt, the lord of the manor.
In 1413 Master Walter Cook and six other persons had licence to found a fraternity and gild in honour of God and St. Anne in his newly built chapel at Knowle. The brethren and sisters were to elect yearly a warden or master (or two such), who should have power to make statutes and ordinances, and they should have a common seal and be able to acquire lands and rents. (fn. 41) Permission was given at this same time for the founding of five or six chantries; but at the time of the suppression of the gild there were only two chantry priests beside the warden. (fn. 42) In 1535 the Gild or College of Knowle had possessions worth in all £20 15s. 2d., out of which 35s. were payable to the Abbey of Westminster, 7s. 8d. distributed in alms on the anniversaries of Walter Cook and of Thomas Kyxley, a former warden, and other small charges reduced the total to £18 5s. 6d. (fn. 43) The property of the gild was sold piecemeal between 1548 and 1553, (fn. 44) and 'the Guylde Hall' itself was sold in 1550, with other estates, to Thomas Reve and John Johnson of London. (fn. 45) The Hall, however, was purchased, restored, and given back to the church in 1912 by G. F. Jackson of Springfield House, Knowle. (fn. 46)
The United Charities: Lord Brooke's Charity. By an indenture dated 30 April 1694 Lord Brooke granted to trustees a close or closes in the manor of Knowle to pay a yearly sum of £3 to purchase three coats for three poor men and three gowns for three poor women. The charge was redeemed in 1924 in consideration of £120 Consols producing £3 annually in dividends.
Harborne's Charities. Thomas Harborne by will dated 21 August 1728 gave a rent-charge of £4 out of a tenement in Knowle for supplying coats or gowns to six of the poorest within the manor of Knowle. The endowment is now represented by five cottages and gardens formerly known as 'Patchett's Orchard', let at weekly rents. The testator also bequeathed to trustees £2,000 (of which about £541 was ultimately received), the interest to be applied to the charity they considered to be the best. The bequest was used to buy about 15½ acres of land, the rent of which was distributed among the poor of Knowle. Most of the land has been sold and the proceeds invested. The endowment now consists of a rent-charge of £1 3s. 4d. paid by The Grand Union Canal Co. for land purchased for the purpose of the canal, land held on a lease for 99 years at a yearly rent of £5 15s. 8d., and a sum of Stock.
Andrew Palmer by will dated 9 October 1673 gave to trustees £100 to buy land, the issues to be disposed of as follows: 2/5 towards the maintenance of a preaching minister in the chapel at Knowle, 2/5 for the relief of the poor, and 1/5 towards the repair of the said chapel. The legacy was secured by a rent-charge of £5 issuing out of Featherstone's Fields and was afterwards reduced to £4. The charge was redeemed in 1928.
Henry Marsh in 1617 gave 10s. per annum out of his estate at Pearsall End to be distributed among the poor of Knowle, and Leonard Feckleton in 1592 gave an annual sum of 6s. 8d. issuing out of a close called 'The Field next Brown's' to be distributed among the poorest men of Knowle. These two yearly payments were redeemed in 1915.
John Symons in 1610 gave 20s. yearly out of land in Knowle for the use of 20 poor inhabitants. The charge is now paid out of Kixley Farm, Knowle.
Fisher's Charity. The endowment of this charity, the origin of which is unknown, consisted of a gift of 4s. 6d. a year to the poor of Knowle. This was afterwards reduced to 3s. and is now secured by a rentcharge issuing out of land at Maggins, Knowle.
Francis Bent prior to 1685 gave 6s. 8d. yearly out of William Perkin's house at Knowle to the poor and towards the repairs of the church. The charge was redeemed in 1926.
House at Rising Brook. The endowment of this charity consisted of a cottage and garden at Rising Brook, Knowle, the rent of which was distributed to poor parishioners. The property was sold in 1925 for £80 and the net proceeds invested in Consols in trust for the charity.
Edward Tallis by will dated 11 July 1794 gave to the minister and chapel-wardens £50, the interest to be distributed in bread to poor housekeepers. The legacy is now represented by £95 9s. 3d. Consols.
Thomas Treherne by will proved 29 April 1801 made a similar bequest of £25, now represented by £42 11s. Consols.
The Rev. William Wilson by will gave £50, the interest to be distributed by the minister and churchwardens among the poor of the hamlet. The legacy was invested in £54 5s. 6d. Consols.
Thomas Boston by will dated 3 January 1837 gave £30 to the minister and churchwardens, the interest to be distributed in bread to poor housekeepers of Knowle. The endowment is now represented by £33 Consols.
Grimshaw's Charity. This charity was founded by Richard Grimshaw in 1691 and endowed with a cottage, garden, and orchard, for one or more widows. The property now consists of four cottages in Knowle let at weekly rents.
The above-mentioned charities are now regulated by Schemes of the Charity Commissioners of 26 August 1879, 23 March 1897, and 28 November 1911, under the title of The Knowle United Charities. The 1911 Scheme appoints a body of eleven trustees to administer the charities; and the 1897 Scheme directs that the yearly sums of £1 12s. to the vicar of Knowle, and of 16s. for the repair of the church (both payable out of the charity of Andrew Palmer), and of 3s. 4d. for the repair of the church (payable out of the charity of Francis Bent) shall form a separate charity called the Ecclesiastical Charity of Andrew Palmer and Francis Bent. The 1879 Scheme directs that ⅓ of the income of Thomas Harborne's charity shall be applied to educational purposes, and the residue and the income of the remaining charities to the benefit of poor residents in Knowle. The income of the charities amounts to about £85.
Joseph Wheeler by will proved 1 May 1895 directed his residuary estate to be held as to one-half upon trust to pay the same to the vicar and churchwardens for such charitable objects in Knowle as they shall determine. The endowment now produces £89 3s. 8d., which is distributed in gifts to poor residents.
The Samuel Welsh Memorial Homes for aged nurses. By an indenture dated 31 January 1924 Mary Elizabeth Slater conveyed to trustees land at Knowle with four cottages erected thereon to be used or occupied rent-free by retired nurses.
The Berrow Cottage Homes. By deed of gift dated 22 December 1885 Sarah Letticia Berrow conveyed to trustees land at Knowle containing 3,909 sq. yards, to erect thereon four or more cottage homes for the occupation rent-free of persons in reduced circumstances not of the pauper class. Five homes were duly erected and are now occupied by five ladies.
Miss Sarah Letticia Berrow by will proved 14 March 1923 bequeathed to the trustees of Berrow Cottage Homes £4,000 and the residue of her real and personal estate for the maintenance of the houses or for an endowment fund for the support of the inmates. The endowment now produces an annual income of about £288, which is applied in paying stipends to the inmates and in the maintenance of the homes.
Edward Mullins' Trust. Edward Mullins by will proved 31 August 1931 gave the residue of his estate as a fund for the benefit of poor old persons resident within the district of Fen End near Knowle. The endowment produces £33 14s. 2d.