A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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Acreage: 2,984. (fn. 1)
Population: 1911, 853; 1921, 885; 1931, 975.
The parish forms a roughly rectangular block measuring 4 miles from north to south with a width of about 2 miles. The eastern boundary is formed by a small stream running south, at first just west of the Birmingham-Warwick Canal and then, from Kingswood Junction to Lowsonford, parallel with and just east of the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. At Kingswood Junction the two canals are connected by a cut and the Stratford Canal makes a right-angle turn to the west, rising by thirteen locks in a mile from 350 ft. to 432 ft. Another stream, running south down the middle of the parish, forms the western boundary of Bushwood.
From Lowsonford, at the south-east angle of the parish, Lapworth Street runs north-west to Birmingham by way of Packwood and Hockley Heath, where it is joined by another road running north, from Henley-in-Arden, close to the west boundary of the parish. A road connecting these two gives off a branch southwards to the small group of buildings round the church and school, which includes one 17th-century timber-framed cottage. On the east the main Birmingham line of the Great Western Railway runs for a mile through the parish, with a station at Kingswood.
The country is undulating, mostly between 400 and 450 ft., but with a belt of lower land, around the 300 ft. contour line, on the east and south. It is good grazing and dairy farming land, well treed but with no large blocks of woodland. Half a mile south-west of Kingswood station are the scanty remains of a large earthwork known as Harborough Banks. (fn. 2) Immediately south of this is Brome Hall, one of four or five medieval moated sites in the parish.
Although Lapworth lies physically within Barlichway Hundred, it has always been reckoned as part of Kineton Hundred, and it is probable that in preConquest times it was unsettled woodland and was assigned to certain manors at a distance. Even at the time of the Domesday Survey Lapworth had arable only sufficient for one plough, but woodland 2 leagues long and 1 league broad. (fn. 3) The eastern half of the parish is mostly occupied by Bushwood (correctly Bishop's Wood), (fn. 4) which was considered part of the Bishop of Worcester's manor of Stratford-on-Avon, (fn. 5) though in recent years it has been attached to Lapworth for ecclesiastical purposes, and Kingswood. Assarts in 'Wulvurunewude' are mentioned in a deed of the late 13th century, (fn. 6) and in 1408 Simon Felton had a lease of woodland in 'Yarkedich Neuwelond,' Little Herbery (Harborough Banks), and adjoining Neuewast and Neuwehorchart. (fn. 7) In the 13th century Luke Sorel granted to William le Oiselur land at Ulelega for a rent of 3s and 4 woodcocks. (fn. 8) This was held c. 1290 by Robert the Falconer of Henley, and in 1349 half the land of Walter le Fowler was held by John Sweyn for 1s. 6d. and 2 woodcocks yearly. (fn. 9) This render of woodcocks was still due in 1488, (fn. 10) and the land appears on the tithe map as Fowler's close and meadow. (fn. 11)
Thomas Assheby was said to have put out of cultivation a messuage and 30 acres in Lapworth called Barnys place, evicting six persons, in 1497; (fn. 12) and John Bewffo similarly inclosed and wasted a messuage and 60 acres in Kingswood in 1508. (fn. 13) There was some inclosure at Kingswood in 1808, (fn. 14) and 21 acres at Harborough Banks were inclosed in 1863 under an Act of 1860, (fn. 15) but as late as 1904 land at Claycroft was still under open-field cultivation. (fn. 16)
Lapworth Park, about a mile south of the church, now a farm-house, is a 16th-century structure much altered externally. The original plan is rectangular facing nearly east, including a flush cross-wing at the south end which is gabled front and back. The south side of it is of square timber-framing with brick nogging, and the east and west gable-heads are cemented. The remainder has been rebuilt with 18th-century brickwork, as has the plain chimney-stack at the junction of the two parts, which has two wide fire-places back to back. The ceilings have heavy chamfered beams and wide flat joists; the ceiling of the north room is plastered. The north partition of the middle room in the upper story is of fine heavy close-studding. Behind the north part is an 18th-century wing, and another south of it is modern.
Bushwood Hall, half a mile east of Lapworth Park, is said to date from 1708 but, if so, it must have been con siderably altered in the 19th century. A lower wing or outbuilding at the back shows some timber-framing, as does also a small farm-building with brick nogging. There are remains of a moat south of the house. A cottage at Copt Green, midway between Lapworth Park and Bushwood Hall, now two tenements, is of 17th-century timber-framing with brick nogging. It has a rebated central chimney-stack with wide fireplaces, and the ceilings are open-timbered.
Hole-house Farm, 5/8 mile south of the church, is of a T-shaped plan. The head of the T, which is the west cross-wing, has a fair amount of mid-16th-century close-set studding in its side walls, but the gabled south end has vertical timbers set wider apart, and the north end is of late-18th-century brick. The stem of the T is lower, and of square-framed heavy timbers in the upper story. It has a good central chimney-shaft of X-plan; this has wide fire-places: the ceiling-beams are widely chamfered. In the cross-wing is a late-17thcentury staircase. The roof-timbers of the wing are rather rough but are probably Elizabethan.
There is no village. A cottage owned by the rector a few yards south of the church and west of the road is of square timber-framing of c. 1640. Farther south is 'Greenacres', a much rebuilt house in which ancient timbers have been re-used in the walls, &c. The north part is said to have been an ancient cottage but, if so, it has lost its identity in later alterations. Mountford Farm, ¼ mile north of the church to the west of the road to Packwood and Darley Green, is a 16th-century house. The main block is of rectangular plan, facing east, with an 18th-century wing projecting from the north half of the front. The walls are mainly of 18thcentury bricks but at the south end of the front is some earlier brickwork with remains of 16th-century diaper ornament in the lower part: this half also has a gablehead with painted imitation timber-framing. The gabled south end wall is also of 16th-century (plain) brickwork and has a fine chimney-stack with two shafts of eight-pointed-star shape. Its wide fire-place has been reduced: over it is a row of recesses forming lockers. Another chimney-stack, at the junction of the main block and 18th-century wing, has two 17th-century diagonal shafts: it has a wide fire-place, and the room it serves has an open-timbered ceiling. Other rooms have plastered ceilings with chamfered beams. The upper rooms have generally been modernized. The roofs are tiled. A back wing was a bakehouse and has a great fire-place: the upper story is a granary and said to have a good ancient roof. Malt House Farm, ½ mile northnorth-east on the same road as the last, is a 17th-century house of T-shaped plan, the head of the T being the south front, which is faced with 18th-century brick; the gabled east end shows timber-framing in the head. The central chimney above the tiled roof has two diagonal shafts: it has a tall wide fire-place to the west room, which also has an open-timbered ceiling. The back wing shows most of its original timber-framing and has a north plain chimney-stack with a wide fire-place. Pound Cottages, ¾ mile east of the church at the corner of the Rowington road, is a 17th-century house showing some half-timbered work in the gabled north end. The lower rooms have open-timbered ceilings. A ¼ mile farther south, at the corner of a loop-road near Harborough Banks, is another 17th-century house, facing west, with original square timber-framing exposed in the upper story. The plan is rectangular; the north bay is gabled front and back. The roof is new-tiled and has a modern chimney: it has a wide fire-place to the middle room which also has an open-timbered ceiling. East of it, south of the loop-road, is a timber-framed barn of three bays of the 17th century and a west bay of two stories which is earlier—16th century—having curved braces in the framing and wide flat ceiling-joists. A little farther south on the west side of Lapworth Street is another 17th-century barn. The farm-house is modern.
Tan House, ¾ mile east of the church, south of the Rowington road, has been much renovated and enlarged. The ancient part is of a modified T-shaped plan. The stem, facing east, is probably of mid to late 16th-century origin, the head, facing north, being an addition of 1691. An inscribed stone with the date was found in the east gable-head during restoration and is now preserved inside in the upper story. The walls of the wing are of square timber-framing with brick nogging. The east room has an open-timbered ceiling with light joists. The northern bay of the south range (the stem of the T) is of similar half-timber work on the east front and has a modern porch; the remainder is of 18thcentury brickwork. The north entrance-hall has light ceiling-joists like the cross-wing but in the middle and south rooms the joists are wide, laid flatwise, and the chamfered beams are fairly massive. The tiled roofs have been much repaired and the chimney-stacks rebuilt. Large modern additions have been built to south and west. A square garden west of the house marks the former tan-yard. Farther west is a good brick barn of 1801.
Brome Hall, 3/8 mile south-east of the last, is a farmhouse probably reduced from its original size and has the remains of a moat north-east of it. The surviving plan of the oldest part seems to have been L-shaped, the shorter, broader, and taller part extending southwest and dating from about the middle of the 16th century; its gabled south-west end is rough-casted and probably extended farther in the original building. The narrower, wing extends north-west and was a 17thcentury addition, and against the south-east side of the older wing is another low addition of the 18th century. Apart from a little timber-framing in the inner side of the narrower wing and the rough-cast, the external walls are of brick of various periods. The north-west side of the broader wing has late-17th-century brickwork and a tall coeval window in each story, each of two lights with a transom; they light the 16th-century room and chamber over. The room has a stop-chamfered beam and a wide fire-place; its north-east partition wall is of close-set studding. The outer north-east side of the narrower wing has a projecting chimney-stack with two diagonal shafts above; its fire-place is reduced. The inner partition between the 17th-century room and the stair-hall is of heavy square framing. In the farther partition, also of like framing, is a doorway with an ovolo-moulded frame. The upper room in the 17thcentury wing has a coved ceiling.
The Punch Bowl Inn, at a corner about ½ mile north of Tan House, shows 17th-century beams and a wide fire-place, but externally is entirely disguised with rough-cast and cement. About ½ mile west of it, on the south side of the road, is Gospel Oak Cottage, a Tshaped building with 17th-century timber-framing in all the walls and a central chimney above the tiled roofs. It has a wide fire-place and the ceilings are opentimbered.
High Chimneys, 3/8 mile east of Bushwood Hall, on the east side of Lapworth Street, is a building of Tshaped plan, the head facing north. It is an Elizabethan house that has been very much modernized externally, the only really interesting features being the two chimney-stacks. That in the middle of the north crosswing has three octagonal shafts of brick. Above the south wing is a more massive shaft of eight-pointed-star shape. The former has a wide fire-place in which a smaller fire-place is constructed: this has an interesting and ingenious early-18th-century polished steel firegrate with movable hobs and a crane, said to have been removed from elsewhere in the house. The ceilings are plastered but show stop-chamfered beams. A little timber-framing is exposed in the east wall of the south wing above a pentice. North-east of the house is a rather derelict barn of timber-framing.
Bushwood Common Farm, about ½ mile south of High Chimneys on the same side of the road, is a low building facing west and suggests an early Tudor origin with a 15-ft. one-storied hall in the middle and north and south cross-wings—two-storied and gabled, the upper floors being inserted later in the hall and a chimney-stack built out on its east side. The north wing projects about 6 ft. in front and the south wing similarly at the back. Both have original timber-framing exposed in the outer walls but most of the east and west ends of the north wing and the front of the middle part are of modern brick. At the back is a projecting chimney-stack with a wide fire-place to the middle chamber, which also has an open-timbered ceiling with a chamfered beam and stop-chamfered joists. The north wing has open-timbered ceilings with chamfered beams and early wide flat joists. In the upper story is a highly cambered middle tie-beam and wind-braced sidepurlins. The south wing has an 18th-century angle fire-place in the front room with carved and plaster ornament. The chamfered ceiling-beam in this room has broach-stops. The back room has an open-timbered ceiling and the room above has a coved ceiling. Timberframing shows in many of the walls inside. A staircase in the south wing has 17th-century turned balusters. The roofs are tiled. A barn of four bays south-west of the house has some 17th-century framing in the walls but is mostly of later brickwork. Original trusses divide the bays.
LAPWORTH was one of a scattered group of estates granted by Coenwlf, King of the Mercians, to Deneberht, Bishop of Worcester, in 816. (fn. 17) Bishop Brihteah gave it to Herlwin, probably a Fleming, who accompanied him in 1036 when he escorted Cnut's daughter Gunnild to 'Saxony' for her marriage, and this Herlwin was evidently the father of Baldwin who was holding Lapworth in the reign of the Confessor. (fn. 18) In 1086 the estate was held by Hugh de Grentemaisnil, as half a hide. (fn. 19) Hugh's lands came into the hands of the Count of Meulan (fn. 20) and the overlordship therefore passed to the Honor of Leicester and so to the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 21)
About the end of the 12th century Ralph Marshal granted ½ virgate of land in Lapworth to Geoffrey [Prat] son of Alexander, (fn. 22) and when Ralph's son Geoffrey confirmed this grant to Henry, son of Geoffrey Prat, he is styled dominus terre. (fn. 23) The Marshals continued to hold land in the parish, but apparently the lordship passed to the family of Pipard. Ives Pipard, son of Sir Robert Pipard of Bishampton (Worcs.), granted to Henry Palmer and Agnes land in his waste of Wolvernewode, 'with all liberties and free customs existing in the territory of Lapworth'; his deed being witnessed by Geoffrey Marshal and Robert Pipard. (fn. 24) In 1236 John Comin, with Geoffrey Corbezun and Juliana his wife, conveyed to Henry Pipard and Nichole his wife and her heirs 2 virgates in Lapworth, (fn. 25) and about the same time Sir Henry Pipard is called chief lord of the fee there. (fn. 26) He died c. 1258 leaving two daughters, of whom Denise was wife of Sir Robert de Harecurt and Cecily wife of Sir Thomas de Bishopsdon. (fn. 27) The main manor seems to have been assigned to Denise, as in 1265 Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, held the manor of Lapworth, valued at £24, during the minority of the heir of Robert de Harecurt, whose marriage he had granted, with a lease of the manor, to Peter le Porter. (fn. 28) Robert's son William de Harecurt granted most of his demesne land, including part of his court and chief mansion, and also his bond tenants to Master Henry de Brandeston. (fn. 29) Henry, who is presumably the Archdeacon of Dorset who became Bishop of Salisbury in 1287, conveyed Lapworth to his brother Hugh and his wife Margaret in tail. (fn. 30) This must have been in or before 1282, in which year Ives Pipard, rector of Lapworth, granted all his lands in the manor to Sir Hugh de Brandeston, (fn. 31) as did Leger Pipard, son of the late Robert Pipard, and his mother Margery. (fn. 32) Hugh had a grant of free warren in his demesnes at Lapworth in 1292 (fn. 33) and died in 1299 seised of the manor with 3 carucates of land, held of the Honor of Leicester as half a knight's fee. (fn. 34) His son Henry was then aged 16; he in 1317 settled the manor on himself, his wife Pernel, and their son Hugh, reserving a life interest in certain estates to his daughter Lettice. (fn. 35) Hugh is mentioned as lord of Lapworth in 1348, at which date his wife was Christine, (fn. 36) and in 1359, (fn. 37) and 1361, (fn. 38) when his wife's name was Sybil. He died in 1362 leaving three daughters, of whom one, Beatrice, was a nun at Wroxall; (fn. 39) his estates were therefore divided between the other two—Rose, who married Richard de Montfort, and Agnes, who married first Philip de Aylesbury and afterwards John Buckmore. (fn. 40) The two coheirs and their husbands agreed in 1364 to bring a joint suit for the manor against Sir John [?] and John Page (presumably Hugh's executors) and on its recovery to divide it. (fn. 41)
Sir Philip de Aylesbury and Agnes his wife in 1376 settled 'the manor' of Lapworth on themselves for their lives, with remainder to their son Roger in tail. (fn. 42) Philip died in 1390 and his widow Agnes is then styled lady of the manor. (fn. 43) She married John Buckmore probably in 1394, when what is here correctly called a moiety of the manor was settled on them and her heirs. (fn. 44) Next year they conveyed to her sister Lady Rose, then widow of Richard de Montfort, their moiety of a dovecot at Lapworth. (fn. 45) In 1395, also, Agnes's son Roger Aylesbury confirmed their life interest to her and her husband, (fn. 46) and after her death he extended it in 1413 to John Buckmore, (fn. 47) who in 1418 leased the moiety of the manor to John Catesby for life at 12 marks. (fn. 48) Roger's grandson John Aylesbury died in 1492 seised of Lapworth, valued at £3, and held of the Duchy of Lancaster as 1/10 knight's fee. (fn. 49) His daughter and heir Joan, widow of Thomas Somerville, held a manorial court here in 1520, (fn. 50) but no later reference to this manor has been found.
Hugh de Brandeston's other daughter Lady Rose de Montfort survived her husband and was still living at the end of 1420, (fn. 51) but in 1427 a settlement was made by which her moiety of the manor of Lapworth was conveyed to Margaret, the elder of her two granddaughters, and John Catesby her husband in tail, with contingent remainders to Richard Merbrook, formerly husband of Margaret's sister Ellen, (fn. 52) and his son William. (fn. 53) Margaret, as a widow, was lady of the manor in 1439 (fn. 54) and with her son Sir William Catesby made a lease of crofts in Haseleholt, to be assarted, in 1451. (fn. 55) In 1458 Sir William was dealing with the moiety of the manor. (fn. 56) He married Philippa, daughter and eventually heir of Sir William Bishopsdon, (fn. 57) and thereby acquired another manorial estate in the parish.
As already stated, Henry Pipard's younger daughter Cicely married Sir William de Bishopsdon. Their grandson Sir John made a contract for the building of a gatehouse at his manor of Lapworth in 1313 (fn. 58) and had a grant of free warren in his lands here in 1319. (fn. 59) In 1320 Henry de Brandeston granted his manor of Lapworth to Sir John, (fn. 60) who held a court there in 1334. (fn. 61) Apparently, however, Hugh's grant was in the nature of a settlement, as the manor was to revert to him and his heirs on Sir John's death, (fn. 62) and meanwhile Sir John leased the estate to him. (fn. 63) Moreover, in both 1330 (fn. 64) and 1361 (fn. 65) the Lancaster fee of Lapworth was held by Hugh de Brandeston 'and his parceners' (i.e. the Bishopsdons). Sir John's great-grandson Sir William Bishopsdon made a settlement of the manor in 1439 (fn. 66) and died in 1447, leaving two daughters—Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Palmer (who apparently died without issue), and Philippa who, as already mentioned, married Sir William Catesby. (fn. 67)
By this marriage the manor of Lapworth was reunited. Sir William's son William forfeited his lands for treason in 1487, but they were restored to his son George in 1495. (fn. 68) He died in 1505, leaving an infant son William, then aged 2, and a widow Elizabeth, on whom he had settled the manor. (fn. 69) William died young and his brother, Sir Richard Catesby, died seised of the manor in 1554, his heir being his grandson William, aged 6, (fn. 70) who, on attaining his majority in 1568, had livery of the manor of Lapworth, worth £26. (fn. 71) His son Robert, afterwards attainted for his share in the Gunpowder Plot, sold the manor to Sir Edward Grevill of Milcote, from whom it was bought by Sir Thomas Holte of Aston, (fn. 72) who was lord of the manor by 1598. (fn. 73)
Lapworth remained in the Holte family until the death of the sixth and last baronet, Sir Charles Holte, in 1782 when the estates passed to his only child Mary Elizabeth and her husband Abraham Bracebridge. (fn. 74) They made conveyances of the manor in 1798 and 1809, (fn. 75) but, apparently under the will of Sir Lister Holte, 5th baronet, (fn. 76) Heneage Legge exercised the rights of lord of the manor from 1782 to 1813. (fn. 77) In 1817 an Act was obtained for the sale of the Holte estates (fn. 78) and the manor was bought by Sir Charles Cockerell, bart., (fn. 79) who held it until about 1830, when he sold it to W. H. Cooper, (fn. 80) whose widow was lady of the manor in 1850. (fn. 81) It subsequently passed to George Miller and then to Richard Dolphin. (fn. 82) In 1932 John Edmond Watts was said to be lord. (fn. 83)
When Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, died in 1296 a carucate within the fee of Lapworth was held of him by Robert de Brome at a rent of 4s. (fn. 84) Robert died in 1318, (fn. 85) leaving a widow Pernel and a son Paulin who was under age and therefore a ward of Earl Thomas. (fn. 86) In 1343 Paulin settled a number of tenements in Lapworth, including 'the waste of Erbury', on himself and his wife Margaret. (fn. 87) He died, probably during the Black Death, before September 1350, when Sir Hugh de Brandeston granted the custody of his lands during the minority of his heir to Thomas Scut. (fn. 88) His son and heir John dated a conveyance from 'le Moreheye' in Lapworth in 1369 (fn. 89) and is probably the John Brome who, with Margery his wife, sold 'Little Herbery' and other lands in 1408 (fn. 90) and in the same year conveyed all their lands to Sir Thomas Burdet and others in trust for Margery, after whose death the Lapworth lands were to be used to endow a chantry at the altar of St. Katherine in the parish church, while lands in Henley and Studley were to remain to Margery's daughter Elizabeth. (fn. 91) It was presumably through this conveyance that in 1419 Sir Thomas Burdet released to Sir William Bishopsdon all his rights in the manor of LAPWORTH HALL. (fn. 92) Most, however, of John Brome's lands descended to his daughter Elizabeth, who married Thomas Audeley of Packwood. (fn. 93) Their son John released his rights in these estates to John Brome the younger, of Warwick, in 1436, (fn. 94) and he, as John Brome alias Brown of Baddesley Clinton, with Beatrice his wife, made a settlement thereof in 1466. (fn. 95) His son Nicholas Brome made conveyances in trust of the manor of BROMES or BROMEN in 1495 and 1501. (fn. 96) The second conveyance seems to have been concerned with the sale of the manor to George Catesby in that year. (fn. 97) The manor then descended with Lapworth, being called 'Bromesland' in 1505, (fn. 98) 'Bromeham' in 1554, (fn. 99) and usually after that date, (fn. 100) though in 1739 it appears as 'Bromeham or Bromon or Bromeshall'. (fn. 101) It was probably sold by Robert Catesby about 1600, and in 1657 it was conveyed by Edward Atkyns, senior and junior, Robert South and Elizabeth his wife, and Clement Farmer to Sir Richard and Francis Lucy. (fn. 102) The later history of the manor is obscure: John Camden, who died in 1724, is called 'lord of the manor of Bromham Hall' on his monument in the church; (fn. 103) in 1730 the manor of Bromehall was said to belong to 'Mr. Francis Chernock of Wedgenock Park'; (fn. 104) Timothy Stoughton appears as lord of the manor in 1743, Robert Basket in 1750, Benjamin Parnell in 1785 and 1805, and George Ross of London in 1822. (fn. 105)
KINGSWOOD, in Lapworth and Rowington, was attached to the distant manor of Wellesbourne, which was held in 1279 by Sir Peter de Montfort, whose tenants had common in Kingswood, with right of pannage and of taking fuel therein. (fn. 106) It descended with Wellesbourne, in which constabulary it was still reckoned in the 17th century. (fn. 107) It passed from the Montforts to the Botelers of Sudeley, and Kingswood was one of the manors of which William Boteler made a settlement in 1417. (fn. 108) The Boteler estates were divided between two coheirs, and at his death in 1487 Henry Belknap held a moiety of the manor of Kingswood. (fn. 109) His son Edward was dealing with the manor in 1499, (fn. 110) about which time he is said to have sold it to Nicholas Brome of Baddesley Clinton (q.v.), by the marriage of whose daughter it passed into the family of Ferrers. (fn. 111) It seems to have been absorbed into their estates and to have lost its manorial identity.
At the time of its dissolution the Augustinian Priory of Caldwell in Bedfordshire held an estate in Lapworth which was farmed for £1 10s. (fn. 112) This was granted in 1545 to Thomas Badger and others, being then in the tenure of John Berell. (fn. 113)
There were evidently two parks in Lapworth by the end of the 13th century, as Ives Pipard, rector of Lapworth, remitted to Mr. Henry de Brandeston his pasturage rights in 'the greater park' of Lapworth. (fn. 114) In 1361 Hugh de Brandeston sold timber at 'Otereshul' within his park of Lapworth, (fn. 115) and in 1420 Richard Merbrooke and Thomas Grene released to John Catesby their rights in 'the Little Park'. (fn. 116) During the time that Lapworth was in the king's hands after the forfeiture of William Catesby, John Williams was appointed keeper of the park in 1486, (fn. 117) as was William Tudder in 1492. (fn. 118) As late as 1602 Lapworth Park was among the estates settled by Robert Catesby at the time of his marriage with Katharine Leigh. (fn. 119)
The parish church of ST. MARY is a short and broad building consisting of a chancel, north chapel, north and south aisles, south porch, a small western parvise, and a north tower, once detached but now connected up with a vestibule, and with a spire.
The nave dates from the early 12th century, when it had no aisles; one window survives over the north arcade. Early in the 13th century a north aisle was added, with an arcade of four bays, inserted in the earlier wall a bay at a time. The south aisle was added about the middle of the century. The chancel was rebuilt and the north chapel added probably at much the same time but their windows were enlarged subsequently.
The tower, detached from the church, was built at the end of the 14th century to the north of the east end of the north aisle. Probably the boundary and roadway west of the churchyard were more or less as now and therefore there was no room for the usual west tower. The spire was probably later.
The whole building was remodelled in the 15th century; the clearstory was raised above the nave, and the aisle walls, except for parts of the south, were rebuilt. The 13th-century chancel arch was reconstructed to make it as wide as possible, as well as higher, the 13th-century material being re-used. The north arcade also shows signs of a later rebuilding.
The west parvise or muniment room, also added in the 15th century, is a rare feature and may indicate that the church then possessed some highly esteemed sacred relic which could be visited by pilgrims. There was just room for it in this position, but its lower story had to be arched for processional purposes.
The chancel was repaired in 1860, when the east window, which had been blocked, was renewed. Other restorations were carried out in 1872–3 and the top of the spire was rebuilt in 1884. The vestibule leading to the tower is modern but it is probable that there was some sort of corridor preceding it.
The small chancel (about 20½ ft. by 15 ft.) has an east window of 1860 of three trefoiled lights and tracery of 14th-century style. In the north wall at the east end is a trefoiled pointed light with an external hood-mould. The jambs are of two orders, the inner ovolo-moulded, all of grey-white freestone. West of it is a round-headed 10½ ft. archway, of the 13th century, opening into the north chapel; it is of two chamfered orders. The responds have halfround shafts with moulded abaci and chamfered bases.
In the south wall are two short and wide windows of the early 14th century, each of three trefoiled lights, the middle reaching to the apex of the two-centred main arch, the others at the springing level, with cusped piercings above them. The segmental rear-arches are chamfered.
The lower part of the east wall, above the modern plinth, is of thin uncoursed grey rubble, with a few brown stones, of the 13th century, the upper part is of squared grey rubble, mostly of larger stones and probably of the 14th century. The modern gable-head is of similar stone. The diagonal buttresses have modern dressings but some of the rubble in the sides is old like the lower rubble of the wall. The interior is plastered. The north wall outside is of irregular rubble below the window. The upper part flanking the window is of roughly squared and later stones. Inside, the ancient uncoursed rubble is exposed. The south wall externally is of fairly evenly coursed squared rubble, perhaps modern refacing; inside it is of modern fine ashlar in the east half, except above the window, which is plastered, as is also the west half.
The roof is a modern steep-pitched gable and has a barrel-vaulted boarded soffit; it is covered with tiles.
The chancel arch shows obvious signs of a medieval rebuilding to widen it as much as possible, and its responds encroach on the side-walls of the chancel. The responds are square with plain chamfered abaci, quite possibly the late-12th-century masonry re-used. The head is of peculiar shape, the lower half being of good arcs with medium-small voussoirs and the upper half straight-sided to a sharp point with very small voussoirs. The original masonry above the arch is rubble-work and has a sloping straight joint in the south half marking the original nave-roof. In the north half the joint is broken by the ashlar which was added when the clearstory was built.
The north chapel (about 14½ ft. east to west by 17 ft.) has a modern east wall with a recess for the altar. To the north of the recess are two semi-octagonal image brackets refixed as capitals, probably of the early 14th century, on long slender engaged shafts. One capital has a series of mouldings and the shaft is carried on a human-head corbel; the other has a moulded abacus and beaded edges to the bell, and its shaft has a moulded base on a moulded pointed corbel.
In the north wall is a 14th-century window of two cinquefoiled pointed lights and a foiled spandrel in a two-centred head with an external hood-mould having returned stops. In the west wall, opening into the north aisle, is a 13th-century narrow pointed arch of two chamfered orders with plain chamfered abaci. The voussoirs of the head are mostly larger than those of the chancel arch but there are a few very small voussoirs. The wall above the west face of it thickens on a chamfered corbel-course which nearly clears the apex of the extrados.
The north wall is of coursed squared rubble in grey stone and has an old chamfered plinth. The gable-head is modern. At the north-east angle is an old diagonal buttress. The low-pitched roof is modern.
The nave (about 42½ ft. by 19 ft.) has arcades of four 10 ft. bays. The north is of early-13th-century date but not all of exactly the same period, the bays having been inserted singly after the easternmost two. Later repairs have caused inequalities and distortions. The pillars are cylindrical (26 in. diameter) in small courses, average 7 to 8 in., and have moulded capitals of varying sizes and contours and at different heights above the floor, the lowest being the middle pillar (c. 6 ft. 9 in.) and the highest the eastern pillar (7 ft. 5 in.). The eastern respond has been cut back and has a modern capital like that of the first pillar; that of the low second pillar is of simple form, that of the third a little more elaborate. The west respond is semi-octagonal with a chamfered outer order and has a simply moulded impost of old grey stone, capped by a later mould of white stone. Its base, of simple roll-form like the east respond, is old. The 14 in. bases of the east and middle pillars are moulded and look like old restorations. That of the third pillar approaches the 'holdwater' type. All have square sub-bases.
The arches also vary; all are of two chamfered orders, the chamfers of the easternmost being very small, the others of more normal size. The two eastern arches are of one build, judging from the jointing above the first pillar, but the easternmost has been rebuilt, mostly with the original small voussoirs, and widened to fit the present east respond, the east half having a few modern stones and the west half having a distorted curve. Its apex is lower than the others. The second arch is sharply pointed and of medium to small voussoirs; the extrados of the outer order is of even concentric curves, but that of the third arch, also sharply pointed, is of a rough and broken line, and the jointing above the middle pillar shows that this arch was built after the eastern arches. It is possible that the pillar, which is lower and has a capital differing from the others, was inserted in place of a respond when the arch was built. The east half of the arch is rather distorted. The westernmost arch was a still later insertion and has many rough-backed voussoirs in the outer order; but this arch was obviously rebuilt subsequently and is very distorted in the west half.
In the haunch over the easternmost pillar is a small early-12th-century window, now opened out, with splays towards the nave. The wall is 2 ft. 7 in. thick and the masonry in the haunches is of roughly squared rubble. The two or three courses above the apices are of the clearstory period.
The south arcade is a more finished product of one build, and the wall above must have been entirely rebuilt, as it is only about 26 in. thick. The pillars are slender (16½ in. diameter) and of very small courses, mostly less than 6 in. each; the middle pillar is circular, the others are octagonal, and the responds semi-octagonal. The capitals of the pillars vary a little and are of good, typical mid-13th-century form. The bases are more or less of 'hold-water' form, on chamfered subbases, but appear to have been restored or retooled. They diminish slightly in height from east to west, probably because the floor then sloped down to the west. The half-octagon of the east respond has been cut right away except for the three top courses, but the old moulded base, of different section from those of the pillars, still remains. Its capital is really only an impostmould like that of the north arch of the chancel and has a later piece of white stone inserted below it to make it look more like a capital. The west respond has an abacus of approximately the same contour, but the bell of the capital has a small roll-mould that dips in a peculiar manner in the south-west rebate between the two orders. The abacus ignores the two chamfered orders below. The pointed arches, of two chamfered orders, are of very small voussoirs. The walling in the haunches is of rubble.
In the west wall are two large 13th-century trefoiled lancet windows with chamfered jambs and rebated heads, wide rubble splays and segmental-pointed reararches of square section. The wall sets back considerably inside above these windows for the clearstory. At the angles of the nave are low square buttresses of ashlar, and the wall is of rubble.
The tall clearstory has four large windows on each side, of two hollow-chamfered orders, and each of three cinquefoiled lights under a square head; they have labels inside and out with carved stops, some human heads but mostly grotesques, and those outside badly perished. The walls set back a little inside and are ashlar-faced; they are divided into four bays internally by hollow-chamfered pilasters rising from the hollowmoulded base-course, where they are carved with grotesque figures, and have cap-figures of angels with shields to carry the roof-trusses. Externally the ashlar bars are marked by square pilasters of white stone, those at the angles being diagonal. The parapets are embattled with return copings to the merlons and have moulded string-courses. Above the pilasters are panelled and crocketed pinnacles (restored), which rise from carved gargoyles at the parapet string-course level. In the west wall is a large four-centred window of five cinquefoiled lights and tracery with a hood-mould and carved stops. The low-pitched east and west gables are also embattled. The whole is of late-15th-century date.
The low-pitched roof, of the same period, is of four bays with five trusses having moulded cambered tiebeams with wall-posts and curved braces having carved spandrels with rose centres, &c. The ridge-pole and purlins are moulded, and under the former are (or were) carved bosses where it meets the trusses. The roof is covered with slates.
The north aisle (8 ft. wide) has at the east end the 13th-century archway into the north chapel and next it, in the north wall, a modern archway into the vestibule. West of this are two north windows, the eastern of two trefoiled lights and 15th-century tracery in a twocentred head which had a hood-mould now cut away. The western is of two similar lights and a plain spandrel in a four-centred head with a much-perished hoodmould. Both have like wide casement hollows in the jambs and heads. Below the second is the blocked north doorway with wave-moulded jambs, four-centred arch in a square head with foiled spandrels, and a moulded label with head-stops. It has a four-centred rear-arch.
In the west wall is a window of three trefoiled ogeeheaded lights and tracery in a four-centred head; the hood-mould has square voluted stops.
The walls are of large white ashlar with a chamfered plinth and embattled parapets. The narrow buttresses, the western diagonal, change at half-height to V-shaped faces and are carried up as crocketed pinnacles, as in the clearstory, but set diagonally. The west wall meets that of the nave with a straight joint above the low buttress of the nave. The flat lean-to roof is modern.
The south aisle (8 ft. wide), which preserves some of its 13th-century details, has generally had much the same 15th-century treatment as the north aisle but its windows may be a little earlier; they are of simpler mouldings but are more lavishly carved. The east window is of three trefoiled lights and tracery in a fourcentred head with a hood-mould enriched with crockets, and with a foliage finial carved in the string-course of the parapet. The stops are carved; the southern as a griffin, the northern as a scaly pair of winged monsters. The jambs outside have a shallow hollow and the hood-mould is of simpler section than those on the north side. In the south wall are three similar windows of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoiled spandrels in four-centred heads and with internal and external hoodmoulds with carved stops, partly human heads and partly grotesques; the finials are similarly incorporated with the parapet string-course. Level with the sills on either side of the porch are also carved winged monsters as corbels for the weather-course of the former porch.
Below each of the two eastern windows inside is a recess formed by a 13th-century single light that has lost its rear-arch except for a few springers. Their ledges are 3 ft. 9 in. above the floor.
Below the western window the wall is thickened outside and contains a pair of similar lights complete with pointed heads and segmental-pointed rear-arches, the ledges 1 ft. 11 in. above the floor. There are no traces of them externally.
The south doorway is probably of the 14th century and has chamfered jambs and high segmental-pointed arch with a hood-mould with head-stops. In the reveals are the sockets for a draw-bar. The west window is probably of the late 13th century and is of two plain pointed lights under a two-centred head with a hoodmould with returned stops.
The east and south walls are of ashlar outside, and are treated in three bays with similar buttresses, parapet, and pinnacles as the north aisle. The west wall is partly of the earlier rubble-work, and the interior of the south wall is of squared rubble.
The roof and the south porch are modern.
The vestibule (12 ft. wide) leading to the tower has a modern west window of two lights and a modern low-pitched roof, but on the south wall of the tower is the line left by a much lower roof of about the same pitch and the filled-in sockets for its purlins.
The north tower (about 12½ ft. square), of three stories, is undivided by string-courses; the walls are of grey-white ashlar and have a plinth with a moulded top course and chamfered lower. At the angles, except the north-west, are old diagonal buttresses of four stages, reaching nearly to the parapet string-course and having moulded offsets. The parapet is embattled and has straight-cut merlons. The north-west angle is a projecting stair-vice showing five sides of an octagon and having a pointed stone roof just above the parapet. The entrance to the tower is by a four-centred doorway in the south wall, of two wave-moulded orders and a hood-mould that has return stops well above the springing level. In each of the other three walls is a tall narrow window of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. They have transoms, below which the lights have trefoiled pointed heads. The rear-arches are four-centred. A bellringers' floor has been inserted and cuts across these windows.
The second story has east and west windows of one trefoiled ogee-headed light and plain piercings in a square head, probably 14th century. The bell-chamber windows are each of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head without a hoodmould. Above the window are modern clock-faces.
The octagonal spire of ashlar has at the base, behind the parapets, four windows of two plain lights under a four-centred head. A little above these is a stringcourse and higher are four small spire-lights. The top 10 ft. or so of the spire is modern.
The small and low two-storied parvise at the west end has no direct communication with the church. Because of its close proximity to the west boundary of the churchyard, open arches were provided in the lower story for processional purposes. (fn. 120) These arches have moulded jambs and four-centred heads; only the southern was rebated for a door and still retains in the west jamb the two hooks for the hinges. The 6-ft. way through was originally quadripartite vaulted and has the springing stones of four hollow-chamfered ribs in each angle as well as the four-centred wall-ribs, all on carved corbel caps. The ceiling is now boarded. West of this corridor are two small vices leading to the upper story and entered by four-centred doorways. The gangways of the stairs are only 2 ft. wide. The rectangular upper chamber has north and south windows of three cinquefoiled pointed lights under a square head and a west window of three similar lights under a threecentred head, and there is a recess in the north end of the east wall large enough for a door or window but probably a cupboard. There are three-centred doorways from the vices. Near the east end of the south wall is a semi-octagonal bracket-basin without a drain, presumably a stoup for holy water.
The walls are of large white ashlar with a chamfered plinth, the west wall having a low-pitched gable; below the west window is a trefoiled niche for an image. The side walls have hollow-moulded eaves-courses, probably parapet string-courses originally. The roof is modern and covered with slates. The building is set south of the axis of the nave and partly covers the southern lower window. The boundary walls at the top of the sharp slope west of it meet the side walls.
The high altar and chancel screen are modern. The north chapel has an Elizabethan communion-table 5 ft. 8 in. long with turned and carved bulbous legs. It was formerly in the chancel.
On the west wall of the chapel south of the west archway is a patch of the original late-13th- or early-14thcentury mural painting, consisting of red roses and black tendrils with tri-lobed leaves. Another patch is higher up on the south wall on the east haunch of the archway to the chancel.
The font of white stone has an octagonal bowl of the early 14th century; it has a moulded top member and a moulded and hollowed lower with a carved head at each angle, some with wimples. The stem is plain and the base chamfered.
In the tower is a plain dug-out chest 3 ft. 7 in. long by 1 ft. 10 in. and 1 ft. 11 in. high; it has a plain lid with three strap-hinges and had one lock.
There are five bells; the third is of pre-Reformation date inscribed: Sancta Katherina ora pro nobis; the fourth is dated 1600, the second (by Brian Eldridge) 1656, the other two dated 1786.
The communion-plate includes a cup of 1664 and a paten of 1643.
The registers date from 1561.
In 1615 it was stated that William Askew had carried out of the churchyard the stonework of 'a verie fayer cross built with arches wherin a dosen men might have stood dry if occation had served and was a verie convenient cross for a preacher, wich stones William Askewe did growndsill his house with'. (fn. 121)
About 1270 William de Harecurt, lord of the manor of Lapworth, gave the advowson of the church to John son of Peter de Glen, who transferred it to the House of Scholars of Merton at Oxford. The scholars, under their warden Peter de Abindon, granted it in 1275 to King Edward, who bestowed it upon the Provost and canons of Mont Cenis, in Piedmont. (fn. 122) In June 1277, however, the king revoked this grant and restored the advowson to Merton, (fn. 123) and the college has retained it ever since.
In 1373 Richard de Montfort endowed a chantry of one chaplain celebrating daily in the chapel founded in honour of the Blessed Mary, St. Thomas the Martyr, and All Saints. (fn. 126) The Earl of Warwick when giving his consent to the alienation of lands in Tanworth for this purpose stipulated that if the male heirs of Montfort failed, the patronage of the chantry should come to him and his heirs. (fn. 127) Accordingly, after the death of Richard's widow Lady Rose, on whom the patronage had been settled for life, (fn. 128) presentations were made by the Earls of Warwick or their representative. (fn. 129) When, however, the forfeited lands of William Catesby were granted by Henry VII in 1488 to Sir John Blount the grant included the advowson of the chantry; (fn. 130) and it was evidently restored with the manor to George Catesby, as he died seised of it in 1506. (fn. 131) It was valued in 1535 at £5. (fn. 132) In 1539 Thomas Garett wrote to Mr. [Richard] Catesby asking for a grant of the next vacancy of the chantry, for which the Lord Chancellor had recommended him. (fn. 133) With other chantries it was suppressed in 1547, and in 1553 the dwelling-house of the chantry-priest, with an orchard and garden, and two parcels of land belonging to the chantry were granted to Edward Aglionby. (fn. 134)
John Brome in 1421 settled lands on his wife Margery for life, after which they were to be used to find a chaplain to celebrate at the altar of St. Katherine in the parish church of Lapworth for a hundred years. (fn. 135) This chantry seems never to have become effective, and by 1464 the lands in question were in Sir William Catesby's hands. (fn. 136)
On 1 January 1439 George Assheby the elder had licence to alienate lands and rents to the value of 4 marks yearly to the rector of Lapworth for the support of a light in the church and such works of piety as he should ordain; (fn. 137) and the following year he alienated some 100 acres of land, pasture, and meadow to the estimated value of 26s. 8d. (fn. 138) This property was seized as 'concealed lands' and granted to one Grey in 1576. (fn. 139)
There is also said to have been an endowment in 1278 for two lamps and two candles to burn before the altars of St. Mary, in the chancel, and St. James, (fn. 140) but of the later history of this endowment nothing is known.
The Lapworth Charity otherwise the Combined Charities. It is stated in the Report of the former Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities, dated in 1826, that a tablet in the church of Lapworth recorded the following benefactions to that parish, viz.:
1440. George Ashby sen. gave lands for the maintenance of the church.
1479. John Hill, rector of the parish, purchased lands and tenements in Lapworth, Nuthurst, and Beaudesert, for the maintenance of the church.
1454. Elenor Ford, widow, gave two closes and a meadow (called the Ford Fields) to the church.
1511. Thomas Underwood and Catherine his wife gave lands to the church, poor, and highways.
1527. Roger Sly gave a cottage and lands to the poor and highways.
1568. John Collett of Nuthurst gave a close for either the relief of the poor or repair of the highways and churches of Lapworth and Nuthurst.
1579. John Mountford gave three messuages and a close for the relief of the poor.
1599. Richard Thorneal of Shrewley gave 5s. a year to the poor of the parish.
1701. Isaac Morteboys of Nuthurst gave 5s. a year to the poor of the parish.
1729. Humphry Shakespear gave 20s. a year for the poor of the parish.
The charities, known as the Lapworth Charity or the Combined Charities, (fn. 141) are regulated by a Scheme of the High Court of Chancery dated 27 June 1845, as varied by Schemes of the Charity Commissioners. The schemes provide for a body of trustees to administer the charities, and the Court Scheme contains directions for the application of the income. The endowment now consists of 180 acres or thereabouts in Lapworth and other places, and investments, the whole producing a yearly income of £550 (approx.), which is applied towards the upkeep of the parish church and for the benefit of the needy and deserving poor in accordance with the trusts.
Edith Mary Hudson by will proved 13 March 1937 gave to the parochial church council the sum of £500, the income to be applied in keeping the parish church and graveyard in good order. The legacy was invested and the income, amounting to £15 per annum, is applied as directed.
The Henry Billing Trust. Henry Billing by will proved 18 June 1912 bequeathed £500, the income to be distributed by the trustees of the Lapworth Charity Estates in gifts of blankets and coals to deserving poor of the parish irrespective of creed. The endowment now produces £17 5s. annually in dividends, which is distributed in accordance with the trusts.
Melson Memorial Park. Alfred Duckworth Melson by his will dated 1 Aug. 1928 gave land in Lapworth containing 17 acres or thereabouts for a public recreation ground to be called 'Melson Memorial Park' for the parishioners of Lapworth, to be under the management and control of his trustees jointly with the rector and churchwardens. The will contains rules and regulations with regard to the use of the land as a recreation ground.
The same testator also (1) bequeathed the small piece of land containing 2 roods adjoining the site of the War Memorial at Lapworth to the Birmingham Diocesan Trustees to be used as part of the site for the War Memorial, and (2) gave to the rector and churchwardens the sum of £100 as an endowment for keeping the said piece of land in good order.