A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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This small parish is pleasantly situated on the left bank of the River Avon, which forms its western boundary. The village, with the church in its centre, lies close to the river along a road running roughly parallel to it. Some 15 or 16 of the houses show remains of 17th-century timber-framing, a few having thatched roofs. At its west end the village street meets the road from Warwick to Kineton, along which the houses are mostly of the 18th century or later, but just south of the 18th-century stone bridge over the Avon is a farm building and opposite it a cottage with some 17th-century framing. The ancient manor-house was destroyed in the 19th century; as was also The Grange, another ancient house near the church, which was for more than a century the home of the family of Ward. (fn. 1) The northern end of the parish is largely occupied by Barford Wood, which is now part of Warwick Castle Park, the road from the village, which used to run through it, having been diverted to run along its eastern edge. Leafield Bridge in this neighbourhood probably marks the site of the mill of 'la Lee' (see below).
Under an Act of 1760 the whole parish was inclosed. It is good agricultural land. Joseph Arch, who played so important a part in improving the lot of the agricultural labourer, was born at Barford in 1826 and retired to a cottage here in his old age, where he died in February 1919. (fn. 2)
Under Edward the Confessor 1 hide in BARFORD was held by Saulf, which in 1086 was held by William son of Corbucion. (fn. 3) The greater part, 4 hides, was at the same date held by one Hugh from Osbern son of Richard, 'two knights' holding part of it under Hugh. (fn. 4) Osbern had inherited from his father the honour of Richard's Castle in Herefordshire, (fn. 5) and the overlordship of Barford descended for some time with this fief. Osbern's son Hugh married Eustache daughter and heiress of Hugh de Say, and their descendants assumed the name of de Say. (fn. 6) In 1210 Margaret, heiress of the de Says, married Robert de Mortimer. (fn. 7) On the death of Robert, Margaret married William de Stuteville, (fn. 8) who therefore was holding half a knight's fee in Barford in 1235. (fn. 9) Margaret's grandson Robert de Mortimer held it in 1279 (fn. 10) and at the time of his death in 1287. (fn. 11) Not long after this the overlordship passed in some way to the Earl of Warwick, who held it in 1316. (fn. 12)
A mesne lordship was held by the family of Verdon. In 1212 Nicholas de Verdon held what is then called 1/6 knight's fee in Barford of the honour of Richard's Castle. (fn. 13) His daughter Rose, who married Theobald le Botiler, held a half-fee here in 1242, (fn. 14) as did her grandson Theobald de Verdon in 1279 (fn. 15) and 1287. (fn. 16) His son Theobald held it in 1316, (fn. 17) and when his lands were divided between his heirs in 1344 this half-fee was assigned to Thomas, son of his fourth daughter Joan and her husband Thomas, Lord Furnivalle. (fn. 18) He died without issue in 1365, (fn. 19) and his brother William, Lord Furnivalle, died in 1383 seised of this half-fee, (fn. 20) which was assigned in 1385 to his daughter Joan and her husband Thomas de Neville, (fn. 21) after which no more is heard of this mesne lordship.
Hugh the under-tenant of Osbern in 1086 was evidently the same Hugh who held under Osbern at Hillborough and Ipsley (q.v.) in this county and in Keysoe, Risely and 'Elvendone' in Bedfordshire, where he is identified as Hugh Hubald. (fn. 22) In 1205 Henry Hubald of Barford was concerned with land in 'Eluedon' in Beds., (fn. 23) clearly the unidentified 'Elvendone'. Two years earlier Henry Hubald acquired 3 virgates in Ipsley from Walter de Bereford, (fn. 24) and in 1219 Denise de Bereford is definitely called sister and heir of Henry Hubaud of Barford; (fn. 25) as his heir she held the half-fees of Ipsley in 1220, (fn. 26) but in this case and elsewhere she is called sister and heir of Henry de Bereford, (fn. 27) and daughter of Walter son of Reynold. (fn. 28) This Walter de Bereford gave 12 acres in Barford to Walter son of Thurstan de Charlecote, and the gift was confirmed by his son Henry. (fn. 29) Ipsley continued in the hands of the Hubauds, but Denise married (? William) de Nafford (fn. 30) and Barford passed to her eldest son Henry. (fn. 31) On the death of Henry de Nafford in about 1250 the manor passed to his kinsman William de Nafford, (fn. 32) probably a nephew. He was succeeded, after 1268, (fn. 33) by his son William, who was holding the half-fee of Theobald de Verdon in 1279 (fn. 34) and in 1285 established his claim to gallows, view of frankpledge, and assize of bread and ale in his manor of Barford. (fn. 35) The younger William died about 1290, leaving a widow Nichole (fn. 36) and a son and heir John. (fn. 37) The name of John de Nafford occurs frequently as lord of Barford between 1293 and 1335, (fn. 38) and in 1337 he was said to be holding the half-fee. (fn. 39) He probably died about this time and it is possible that his immediate successor was the Henry Tankard who is said in 1428 to have 'formerly' held ⅓ knight's fee in Barford, (fn. 40) for Mr. Henry Tankard and Denise his wife occur in 1325 (fn. 41) and he appears as one of the smaller taxpayers in Barford in 1332. (fn. 42) In some way the manor appears to have come into the hands of William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon, (fn. 43) and to have been conveyed by him in 1340 to the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 44) From this date the manor descended for some time with the estates of the earldom. (fn. 45)
Lands in Barford were granted by Queen Elizabeth in 1562 to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, (fn. 46) and 'the manor' was granted to him in 1564. (fn. 47) His widow the Countess Anne conveyed it in 1603 to William Jeffes of Walton. (fn. 48) The countess, however, had only a life interest, and in 1602 the queen had granted the reversion of the manor to Simeon Chambers and William Holman. (fn. 49) Its subsequent history is obscure, but by 1709 it was in the hands of Lord Willoughby de Broke, (fn. 50) in whose family it remained until 1760, when it was sold to Francis, Earl Brooke and Warwick, (fn. 51) and the Earl of Warwick is the present lord of the manor.
A manor of Barford was in the hands of the college of Westbury-on-Trym (Gloucs.) in 1535, when the demesnes were farmed for £2 13s. 4d. and the rents of the customary tenants produced £7 19s., a payment of 14d. being made to 'the lord of Warwick'. (fn. 52) It seems probable that the estate had been given, presumably by Richard, Earl of Warwick, to the college in about 1465, at which time the canons acquired the right of nominating to the rectory (see below). After the suppression of the college its possessions, including the manor of Barford, were sold to Sir Ralph Sadleir in 1544. (fn. 53) In 1546 this reverted to the crown; (fn. 54) in 1566 it was settled on Anne, Countess of Warwick, for life, and it was definitely this manor (fn. 55) that was granted in reversion to Chambers and Holman in 1602.
In 1279 the Knights Templars held under William de Nafford 1 virgate in Barford, (fn. 56) which had been given to them in 1240 by William son of Thomas. (fn. 57) This may be the virgate which Eudes de Bereford in 1303 sold to Nicholas de Warrewik, as the Master of the Temple put in his claim on that occasion. (fn. 58)
Very early in the 13th century Henry de Bereford and Isabel his wife granted the church of Barford and certain messuages there to the canons of Thelsford. (fn. 59) Shortly after this these canons (of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre) were replaced by Trinitarian Friars, (fn. 60) to whom a number of grants, mostly of small properties, in Barford were made. (fn. 61) By 1279 the friars were holding 5 virgates here of Peter de Montfort, who held of Robert Aumfrey, (fn. 62) and 6 virgates of Fulk de Lucy (fn. 63) under William Nafford. (fn. 64) In 1332 the friars were the largest taxpayers in the parish, (fn. 65) and in 1535 their property here brought in £8 13s. 4d. (fn. 66) The grange of Barford, formerly belonging to Thelsford, was sold in 1545 to William Pynnok, (fn. 67) and later came into the hands of the Ward family. (fn. 68)
Small properties within this parish were held by the religious houses of Henwood, Kenilworth, St. Mary's, Warwick, Bordesley, and Evesham. (fn. 69)
There was at Barford in 1086 a mill worth 2s. and 3 sticks of eels. (fn. 70) Henry de Bereford in about 1205 granted to the monks of Bordesley his mills of Barford, with the aid of his men to repair the pool when necessary, and the right of taking earth for repair of the mills and ponds. (fn. 71) The grant of these three mills was confirmed by Denise his sister in 1222, (fn. 72) and the abbot paid 14 marks and promised to pay her for life 12 marks per annum. She also confirmed his grant of a little island near the mill of La Lee. Henry de Nafford, son of Denise, held the mill of Barford from Bordesley with a covenant not to injure the mill of 'La Lee' and to erect certain bounds at 'Alrefford' above the level of which the water was not to be allowed to rise. (fn. 73) John de Nafford in 1293 gave a bond to the abbot for arrears of rent for the mill of Bereford payable at the mill of 'La Lee'. (fn. 74) About the same time he granted the last-named mill to the priory of Thelsford. (fn. 75) In 1562 'two water mills of Barford' were granted to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, which had previously belonged to his father, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland. (fn. 76) These same mills were in 1609 granted by the king to Edward Ferrers and Francis Philipps. (fn. 77) In 1657 it was stated that the corn mills of Barford had for long been held by the late Rowley Ward, his father and ancestors; (fn. 78) and Charles Ward, a member of the same family, in 1692 quitclaimed 4 water-mills in Barford to the heirs of William Price. (fn. 79)
The tower dates from the end of the 14th century; the remainder of the church was rebuilt in 1844 in the style of the same period. The walls are of ashlar stonework and the roofs covered with slates. The nave arcades are of five bays. The nave and chancel roofs have hammer-beam trusses. The floors are paved with Wilmcote stone.
The west tower, about 9½ ft. square, is built of ashlar stonework and has a plinth of two chamfered courses and an embattled parapet. At the angles are diagonal buttresses that formerly had pinnacles above them. The upper part of the tower is largely concealed by verdure. The high segmental-pointed arch towards the nave is of two chamfered orders dying on the square jambs. The floor of the tower is two steps below that of the nave.
The west window is of three cinquefoiled lights without tracery under a two-centred head. The jambs, which are splayed inside and out, and part of the head are ancient. In the south wall is a modern four-centred doorway, now the principal entrance to the church, and in the south-west angle is a splay with a four-centred doorway to the vice, with an ancient plain oak door. The second story is lighted by rectangular windows to the north and south. The bell-chamber has windows of two trefoiled lights and plain spandrels in a twocentred head. The pyramidal roof has a central weather-vane.
In the vestry is a stone tablet to the Reverend Thomas Warde, 'gentleman, parson of Barford', 1532. A mural monument on the north side of the chancel is to Thomas Dugard, A.M., 1683; it is of stone with Corinthian shafts, entablature, and pediment. There are several later memorials mostly to incumbents and their relatives.
Lying in the tower is a 14th-century recumbent effigy of a woman in a close-fitting dress, veil and wimple, the head resting on a cushion. At the foot is apparently a dog. The effigy is badly worn and damaged, the arms are missing and the surface of the skirt either worn or cut down several inches.
There is also a 16th-century iron-bound chest, 3 ft. 4 in. long, with plain strap-hinges, a lock and two hasps fitting into it which are secured in place by a horizontal bar engaged in two ring-staples, one end being turned up and the other end looped for a padlock.
The three bells are dated 1709, 1639, and 1661—the second and third by Henry Bagley. (fn. 80)
About 1205 Henry de Bereford gave the church of Barford to the canons of Thelsford. (fn. 81) In 1276 William de Nafford gave the advowson to the abbey of Evesham, (fn. 82) who strengthened their position by bringing an action for the right of presentation against the Prior of Thelsford. (fn. 83) In 1291 the rectory was valued at £7 6s. 8d., (fn. 84) and in 1535 at £11 11s. (fn. 85)
Although Evesham retained the right of presentation until the Dissolution, from 1466 onwards the presentee was nominated to the abbot by the Dean and Chapter of the College of Westbury-on-Trym (Gloucs.). (fn. 86) What happened to the advowson after the Dissolution is not known, but in 1551 John Hales conveyed it to his brother Stephen, who died seised of the advowson in 1574. (fn. 87) Bartholomew Hales bought it of his executors, and shortly afterwards sold it to Edward Combes, who presented in 1576 (fn. 88) and was dealing with the advowson in 1580. (fn. 89) Philip and William Jones, to whom he conveyed it, sold it in 1582 to Andrew Ognell, from whom it was bought by Thomas Ward. He in 1602 gave it to his son Rowley, whose grandson Thomas sold it to William Newsham. From him it passed to one Bellamy, who sold it to the Rev. John Mills, who had been presented to the living in 1740, and has descended to the present patron, Major J. D. Mills, D.L., J.P. (fn. 90)
William Henry Reading by will proved 25 August 1927 similarly gave £100, the income to be applied in keeping the churchyard, and particularly the grave therein of members of the testators' family, in good order.
Beale's Charity. Upon an old tablet formerly affixed in the church was an inscription stating that John Beale gave £60 to this town, which money was laid out in land in Leamington Priors. In the Returns under Gilbert's Act it is stated that the charity was given by the will of John Beale in 1672. The charity is now regulated by a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners which appoints a body of trustees to administer the charity and provides for the application of the income of £30 approx., for the general benefit of the poor.
Overton's Charity. Upon an old Benefaction Table, dated 1757, it was stated that John Overton gave 10s. a year to be given to the poor of Barford at Christmas yearly. The gift was charged upon some small tenements in Barford. The rentcharge was redeemed in 1930, and 10s. annually in dividends are distributed by the rector to poor widows.