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 in the extreme south of the county derives its name from the Roman Fosse Way, which passes through it from south-west to north-east. The village lies just to the west of the Fosse Way; and a mile to the south-east of the church, in a bend of the Paddle Brook (fn. 1) which forms the southern boundary of the parish, is the site of the chapel of St. Giles at Ditchford Frary, a decayed medieval parish which was united to Stretton in 1642. (fn. 2) A road running westwards from Shipston-on-Stour to Evesham crosses the Fosse Way at Portobello Farm. The parish is also traversed from south to north by a branch of the Great Western Railway from Moreton-in-the-Marsh to Shipston-on-Stour (used only for goods traffic), which originated in a tramway between Moreton and Stratford constructed about 1825.
Under an Act of 1771 (fn. 3) some 1,550 acres, including 45 yardlands in the common fields, were inclosed.
At the Rectory south-east of the church, built into a porch, are some trefoiled heads of lights of a 15th-century window from the former church. The Rectory is a late-16th-century building but has been much altered and enlarged. The west part has mullioned windows with labels, and a reconstructed staircase inside has some refixed pierced and shaped flat balusters; one is a foot wide. The east part has an inscription with initials h and m h 1690. In the grounds is part of the octagonal shaft of a medieval tall cross.
The small village, ¼ mile west of the Fosse Way, is of the common local type congregated about several loop roads. Most of the houses stand south and south-west of the church and are of local stone, ashlar or rubble. Several have thatched roofs, others have stone tiles. A fair proportion are probably of the 17th century or earlier and at least six retain one or more of the original mullioned windows with labels. A large house south of the church is mainly of the 18th century but has a wing of this type. Another L-shaped house at the junction of cross-roads on the west side of the village also has an arched doorway. The Manor House south of it, a modern building on a new site, is of the same design: the old manor house is said to have been farther west. Another house at this crossing, with altered windows, &c., has an inscribed tablet with the initials r & i.p. and date 1698.
STRETTON was held in two parts in 1086; the larger, 6 hides, which had been held by Chenward and Brictric, was held in chief of the king by Gilbert son of Turold, and of him by Walter. (fn. 4) The other part, 2 hides, had also been held by Brictric and was then held by Walter of Osbern son of Richard. (fn. 5) In some way, Gilbert's estate came to Ralph de Toeny, who was holding half a knight's fee here in 1235. (fn. 6) The overlordship continued in his family (fn. 7) until the death of Roger de Toeny in 1308, when it passed by the marriage of his sister Alice to Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, subsequently descending with the Warwick estates and so coming to the Crown.
In 1242 the half-fee was held of Ralph de Toeny by 'the heir of William le Breton'. (fn. 8) This may have been Alan le Breton who in 1233 proved his right to the advowson of the church of Stretton, which had belonged to his uncle Ralph le Breton. (fn. 9) In 1297 Master William Pikerel died, having previously enfeoffed his nephew Walter in a messuage and 5 virgates of land in Stretton-on-Fosse. (fn. 10) Walter Pikerel and Agnes his wife in 1316 granted the advowson and the reversion of 3 carucates here to John de Leycestre, clerk, (fn. 11) who seems to have been succeeded by Walter de Leycestre, clerk, about 1340. (fn. 12) By 1344, however, the estate had come into the hands of Sir Roger Hillary, who had a grant of free warren in his demesne lands, (fn. 13) which he held of the Earl of Warwick as ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 14) His son Sir Roger died in 1400, seised of what is now definitely called the manor of Stretton-on-Fosse, in which his widow Margaret had a life interest with remainder to Sir John Rochford, (fn. 15) son of Saer de Rochford and Joan, the elder of Sir Roger's two sisters and co-heirs. (fn. 16) The other sister, Elizabeth, married William de la Plaunch and had a daughter Elizabeth, who married, as her third husband, Sir John de Clinton and died without issue in 1423. (fn. 17) Her interest in the manor was conveyed to Joan, eldest of the three daughters of Sir John Rochford, and Sir Robert Roos, her husband. (fn. 18) Their elder daughter Margaret married first Thomas Pinchbeck and secondly John Wittlebury. (fn. 19) Their son Robert Wittlebury died in 1507, leaving his Stretton estate to his wife Anne (sister of William Catesby) for life, after which it should be sold for the executing of his will. (fn. 20) The following year Anne, with Robert's co-executors, confirmed her husband's undertaking to sell the manor and advowson to Elizabeth (Empson), widow of Anne's nephew George Catesby. (fn. 21) Apparently, however, the sale was not completed, as in 1511 Anne and her second husband, Sir Richard Clement, were dealing with the manor. (fn. 22) She died in 1528, and Sir Richard in 1538, (fn. 23) when the manor seems to have been divided between Anne, daughter of Sir Richard's brother John and wife of Hugh Pakenham, (fn. 24) and her sister Margaret. (fn. 25) Anne's son Robert Pakenham in 1550 sold ¼ of the manor and a moiety of the advowson to Robert Gybbs, (fn. 26) whose son Richard died seised thereof in 1580, leaving a son Robert then aged 5. (fn. 27) This estate continued in the family until it was acquired by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who bought 293 acres from John Gibbs in 1862, and 84 acres from the representatives of William Gibbs in 1872. (fn. 28)
The share of Margaret Clement, called ¼ of the manor (fn. 29) and advowson, seems to have been sold to Robert Barley and by him in 1552 to Thomas Fowler, who sold it in 1570 to William Sheldon of Beoley. (fn. 30) This was still in the hands of the Sheldons in 1730. (fn. 31)
The estate in Stretton held in 1086 by Osbern son of Richard is said to have been granted by his grandson Osbert to Hugh Hubaud, and by him to Walter Cumin, to hold by service of providing a foot soldier for 8 days against the Welsh at Richard's Castle when required. (fn. 32) Walter's son Walter gave 3 hides here to the Abbey of Bordesley, (fn. 33) who acquired other property in the parish, (fn. 34) so that in 1275 the monks had 4 hides here. (fn. 35) In 1291 their estate was valued at £8 13s. 4d.; (fn. 36) and in 1535 the abbey's manor or grange of Strettonon-Fosse was worth £7 7s. 8d., from which a payment of 10s. was due to John Hubaud, lord of Ipsley, and his heirs. (fn. 37) In 1538 the Abbot of Bordesley surrendered this manor, among the other possessions of his house, to Henry VIII. (fn. 38) The king granted it to Thomas Badger and others in June 1545, (fn. 39) at the same time licensing them to alienate it to William Freeman of Barcheston. (fn. 40) He died in 1556 seised of the site of the manor, his heir being his grandson John Freeman, aged 13. (fn. 41) John had livery of the site of the manor on coming of age in 1565, (fn. 42) and next year had licence to alienate it. (fn. 43) Most of the land seems to have been sold to Richard Bate of Little Wolford, presumably son of the Richard who was tenant and bailiff of the estate under the abbey; (fn. 44) but the manorial rights apparently descended to Margaret, heir of John Freeman, who married William Hughes of Quinton, (fn. 45) as their son John Hughes was lord of the manor between 1762 and 1786, when he died, leaving his estate to be sold by his cousin John Ashcombe of Evesham, (fn. 46) and it is probable that the manorial rights, if any really existed, lapsed.
DITCHFORD FRARY was held in 1086 by Robert de Stafford, and of him by Brion; it was assessed at 2 hides, and had formerly been held by Leuric. (fn. 47) The overlordship descended in the Stafford family, (fn. 48) being last mentioned in 1509, when the manor was held of Edward, Duke of Buckingham, as of his manor of Great Wolford. (fn. 49) Brion, apparently the ancestor of the family of Standon, (fn. 50) had been succeeded by 1166 by Robert son of Ralph, who held of Robert de Stafford 7 fees, of which 2/3 fee was held by Roger de Dicheford. (fn. 51) In 1185 Adam de Standon was impleading Roger for ½ knight's fee in Ditchford. (fn. 52) Adam died between 1194 and 1199, and his son Robert was dead by 1208, leaving an heir under age. (fn. 53) This heir was presumably Vivian de Standon, against whom Hervey de Stafford brought a suit in 1230. (fn. 54) Hervey claimed that Vivian should render service of a knight's fee for his 2 hides in Ditchford, but in 1232 the service was fixed at half a fee. (fn. 55) Vivian still held the mesne lordship in 1242, (fn. 56) and on his death in 1250 (fn. 57) was succeeded by his son Robert. (fn. 58) A later Vivian was said to be mesne lord in 1372, (fn. 59) and in 1386, (fn. 60) and even as late as 1460 the fee was theoretically held of 'the heirs of Vivian de Staundon'; (fn. 61) but probably these statements are misleading references based on old feodaries and the mesne lordship lapsed on the death of Vivian de Standon in 1324, (fn. 62) when he left two daughters, who carried the estates to the families of Boydell and Shotesbroke. (fn. 63)
As already stated, the tenant of the fee in 1166 was Roger de Dicheford, and he or a namesake held it in 1185. (fn. 64) In 1238 Fraric de Dicheford, from whom the vill derived its distinguishing suffix, was holding the manor from Vivian de Standon by knight service and a render of 4s. yearly. (fn. 65) The manor descended to John de Dicheford, who presented to the church in 1295 and 1305; (fn. 66) after whose death it was divided between his four daughters: Joan wife of John de Brayles, Margery wife of William de Burle, Ellen wife of Henry Wattes, and Agnes wife of Richard Sloley. (fn. 67) John and Joan in 1331 acquired the shares of Ellen and Margery, including the reversions of lands held in dower by Elizabeth widow of John de Dicheford and by Maud widow of Roger de Dicheford. (fn. 68) John de Brayles left a daughter Agnes, who was mother of John father of William father of Thomas father of Thomas Shuckburgh. The latter Thomas in 1492 started litigation over the manor with Thomas Agar, or Agard, which was still being carried on by their respective grandsons Thomas Shuckburgh and Stephen Agard in 1534. (fn. 69) Thomas Agar's claim was in right of his wife Margaret daughter of Geoffrey St. Germain (attainted 1485), (fn. 70) whose mother Joan was daughter of Eleanor Allesley. (fn. 71) This Eleanor, wife of Geoffrey de Allesley, was daughter and coheir of Henry Sutton and Margaret his wife, (fn. 72) who had acquired certain rights in the manor from Thomas Blythe. The latter is said to have inherited this estate on the death of Maud, alleged to have been daughter of John and sister of Thomas de Dicheford, (fn. 73) but it seems more probable that Maud was daughter of Agnes, the fourth daughter of John de Dicheford. Thomas Agard died in 1509, having settled the manor of Ditchford Frary on his son George on his marriage with Elizabeth daughter of Richard Middlemore. (fn. 74) George died in 1522 seised of the manor, which passed to his son Stephen, then aged 9, (fn. 75) who between 1543 (fn. 76) and 1547 (fn. 77) sold the manor and advowson to William Willington. Meanwhile, in 1538, Thomas Shuckburgh had also sold the manor and advowson to William Willington, (fn. 78) who thus united the rival manors. From William Willington, who died seised of the manor of Ditchford Frary alias Agars Ditchford in 1557, it passed to Basil Feilding, who had married Godith, one of his seven daughters. (fn. 79) Basil died early in 1585, (fn. 80) and his grandson Basil Feilding in 1624 sold the manor to Edward Sheldon, (fn. 81) in whose family it descended until 1786, when it was sold by Edward Sheldon to MajorGeneral Henry Watson Powell. (fn. 82) It is said to have been bought from Poyntz Steward Ward in 1826 by Sir George Philips, (fn. 83) whose son Sir George Richard Philips held the estate in 1850, (fn. 84) but the manorial rights seem to have lapsed.
In 1358 John de Burmyngton and Elizabeth his wife granted ¼ of ¾ of the manor of Ditchford Frary (apparently held in her right) to William de Peyto and his son John. (fn. 85) In 1372 the Stafford fee of Ditchford was held by William de Peyto, (fn. 86) and in 1386 Sir John de Peito presented to the church of Ditchford; but by 1391 Henry Sutton was presenting. (fn. 87) Elizabeth was probably the widow (and most likely second wife) of John de Dicheford and had in fact conveyed only her life interest.
The parish church of ST. PETER, rebuilt (fn. 88) and enlarged in 1841, consists of a chancel with a south vestry, nave (50 ft. long), and a west porch and bell-turret. No ancient architectural features remain.
The small chancel has a traceried east window of four lights; the nave, divided by buttresses into four bays, has a two-light window in each bay in the north and south walls. The entrance is at the west end from a porch that is flanked by a small north chamber and a south staircase to a gallery. Over the porch is an octagonal bell-turret lighted by windows in gables, the whole crowned by a small stone spire. The walls are of ashlar, the roofs covered with slates.
The church of Stretton-on-Fosse was originally a chapel of Blockley in Worcestershire, (fn. 89) and although in 1351 the inhabitants petitioned Bishop Thoresby for the right to bury their dead, on the ground that the mother church of Blockley was distant and difficult of access in the winter, (fn. 90) they seem not to have been successful, as in 1441 they were still carrying their dead to Blockley. (fn. 91) In 1291 it was called a chapel and was valued at £2 6s. 8d. (fn. 92)
About the end of the 12th century Ralph le Breton presented to the church of Stretton; one Robert le Chivaler (fn. 93) challenged his right and presented another clerk, but a compromise was effected. In 1233, however, Alan le Breton, nephew of Ralph, claimed and recovered the advowson against Simon de Elmedune and Julian his wife, granddaughter of Robert. (fn. 94) Again in 1302 rival clerks were presented, one by Walter Pikerel and the other by some unnamed claimant. (fn. 95) Pikerel seems to have established his right, and the advowson then descended with the main manor (fn. 96) until the death of Sir Richard Clement. His first wife, Anne Wittlebury, had died 10 years before him, but he seems to have left a widow, who as Anne Grey, widow, late wife of Sir Richard Clement, presented in 1549. (fn. 97) She died in 1558 (fn. 98) and the advowson passed with that portion of the manor which came to the Sheldons. As they were Roman Catholics the actual presentations were made by their nominees, one of these for some years after 1570 being Richard Hyckes, the manager of Sheldon's tapestry works at Barcheston. (fn. 99)
By 1744 the advowson was in the hands of Henry Hawes (fn. 100) of Princes Risborough (Bucks.), whose son the Rev. Wright Hawes (fn. 101) left two daughters: Elizabeth, the elder, married the Rev. William Longford, rector of Stretton; Mary, the younger, married the Rev. George Huddlestone Purefoy Jervoise. (fn. 102) They made a joint presentation in 1770, (fn. 103) and as late as 1831 the advowson was still said to be divided between the two coheirs of Wright Hawes. (fn. 104) But after the death of Mrs. Longford her share seems to have come to her sister's son George Purefoy Jervoise, who died childless in 1847 and left his estates to his niece Sarah Anne, who married Thomas Fitzgerald. Mrs. Fitzgerald was patron in 1850 (fn. 105) and remained so until her death in 1899, when she was succeeded by her grandson. He changed his name in 1899 from Fitzgerald to Purefoy and, as Admiral Richard Purefoy, was patron in 1937. (fn. 106)
The church of St. Giles of Ditchford was a chapel of the church of Wolford, and in 1439 an agreement was made between the Warden and Fellows of Merton College, Oxford, to which Wolford church was appropriated, and Geoffrey Allesley and Eleanor his wife, patrons of the chapel, by which the incumbent of the chapel should in future receive all tithes and oblations, paying 2s. yearly on 19 July to the College. (fn. 107) The advowson descended with the manor until 1642, at which time the church was ruinous and there was only one house in the parish, so the rectory was united with that of Stretton-on-Fosse. (fn. 108)
Richard Badger's Charity. This parish receives 1/42nd of the income of this charity, amounting to £17 16s. 9d. annually, representing the church share, and a like amount representing the poor's share. The church share is applied by the rector and churchwardens towards keeping the parish church in proper repair and maintaining divine service, and the poor's share is applied for the deserving poor of the parish.
Poor's Land. By deed dated 16 October, James I it was recited that certain trustees stood seised of one messuage and half a yardland at Stretton, in trust for the tenants and inhabitants of Stretton to such good and charitable uses as the said tenants and inhabitants should think convenient. The endowment now consists of land at Stretton-on-Fosse containing 14 acres and is let at an annual rent. By a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 31 July 1868 the rector and churchwardens for the time being were appointed trustees, and the scheme directs the income to be applied for the benefit of the most deserving poor and necessitous inhabitants of the parish, by providing them with clothes, bedding, fuel, medical, and other aid in sickness, food, or other articles in kind, &c.