A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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Population, 1911, 578; 1921, 552; 1931, 525.
The parish lies just south of Warwick, on either side of the road from that town to Banbury, its northwestern corner, which adjoins the River Avon for a short distance, lying within the Castle Park. Here and on the south-west edge of the parish at Oakley Wood, in which is a large earthwork inclosure of uncertain date, (fn. 1) are the only notable blocks of woodland, most of the parish being open country undulating between 170 ft. on the north and 300 ft. on the south. There are several small streams, one of which divides Bishop's. Tachbrook proper from the hamlet of Tachbrook Mallory. This hamlet, which was manorially divided in 1510 between the Abbey (formerly Priory) of Kenilworth and William Medley (see below), was by them then inclosed, 8 messuages and 310 acres of arable, employing 10 ploughs, being put out of cultivation and 60 persons ejected; and, though apparently some of the land and inhabitants had been replaced by 1518, it remained depopulated, there being only four houses in Dugdale's time (c. 1640). (fn. 2) Where the Banbury road enters the parish on the north The Asps was also mentioned as a hamlet in 1316. (fn. 3) It occurs, as Aspes or Naspes, as a place-name from 1195 onwards, (fn. 4) and there are references to the common waste and field of Naspes in deeds of the time of Henry VI, (fn. 5) but it is now only a farm. Under an Act of 1731 (fn. 6) some 688 acres of the parish were inclosed.
A little to the north of the church is Windmill Hill, and there is reference to a windmill belonging to the manor in 1557. (fn. 7) The same record also mentions two water-mills, and there were two mills here in 1086. (fn. 8)
The small village is a very picturesque one lying mainly about an oval loop off the west side of the road running south from Warwick, and in a road from the loop passing westwards south of the church. Most of the buildings are cottages, some sixteen of which are wholly or partly of 17th-century or earlier timberframing. Many have been reconditioned or partly altered: the infilling is generally of brickwork, but some retain the original wattle and daub. About half of the roofs are still thatched, the remainder are tiled. East of the church is an old barn. The old Rectory to the south-west of the church is a late-18th-century brick house.
'Savage's House', (fn. 9) the reputed manor-house, stands about 100 yds. east of the main road and loop. It was later the home of the Landors, including the author Walter Savage Landor, to whom there is a memorial in the church. The house is said to date from c. 1558, but if so it has since been much altered. The plan is H-shaped, facing west, and to the north are large modern additions. The fabric of the west front is hidden by plasterwork, but the south side is of 17th-century brickwork. The front entrance has a sixpanelled door with moulded framing and panels carved with lozenge ornament, and it is surrounded by a collection of 17th-century wood-carvings of terminal figures, grotesque masks, &c. The porch covering it and the entrance hall forming the north half of the main block are lined with early-17th-century panelling. The room in the south half has a three-sided baywindow in which is some old glass, including the Savage arms dated 1577 and another quarterly coat of 'Onby' (recte Olney). This bay-window and two out of three similar windows in the long room occupying the south cross-wing have been restored, except for the external friezes above the lights. These are variously carved, one with small half-figures (human) and scrolled foliage, another with a running vine pattern, and the third with a series of putti and dogs, apparently hunting, all of the 16th century. Other bay-windows are plain or modern.
The staircase behind the entrance hall is partly of the 17th century with turned balusters, &c. The lower rooms have some old ceiling beams. Both the long rooms in the upper story of the cross-wings have coved plastered ceilings going up into the roof-space. None of the fire-places shows original detail, except the remains of the wide fire-place in the dining-room in the north wing (the former kitchen); but the chamber above this room has been fitted with a large oak chimney-piece which came either from the demolished mansion of the Peto family at Chesterton or else from Kenilworth Castle. It is a richly carved specimen of late-16thcentury work with an overmantel of three bays having round-headed panels and pairs of Ionic shafts supporting an entablature, the frieze of which is carved with scroll ornament. The roofs are tiled. The central chimneystack is a plain rectangle; that over the dining-room fire-place is of two conjoined square shafts.
East of the Leamington road about 3/8 mile north-east of the church are the remains of a medieval chapel which now forms the back wing and outbuilding of a small farm-house. It is about 13 ft. wide internally and about 40 ft. long but was probably longer originally. The walls, about 2 ft. thick, are of cream-stone ashlar without plinths. About midway in the south wall is an original buttress 10 in. deep, and on the north side the scar of another, required to resist the thrust of a former cross-arch which sprang from corbels, of which the north corbel still remains in place; on it are the springing stones, of two hollow-chamfered orders with broach-stops. This would have made the chancel or sanctuary about 20 ft. long. The gabled east wall retains the chamfered jambs of a window, probably of the 14th century, of two lights; it now has a wood lintel supported by two reset stones as 'shoulder corbels'. The rear-arch is pointed. The sill is about 5 ft. above the ground. In the south wall are the remains of three plain square-headed lights about 10 in. wide, two east of the buttress, of which the nearest is blocked and the eastern retains the lintel only, being altered for a wider wood-framed window. The third, west of the buttress, retains its east jamb and head and is widened westward for a modern window. In the north wall is the head of another, opposite the blocked window; this is left above a modern wide window and is cut to form an arch. Creeper hides the west part of the wall but there appears to be another blocked window beneath it. There is no trace of an original doorway; it may have occupied the place of the modern doorway at the west end of the north wall or of the modern window opposite, or it may have been in the former west wall. There is another modern doorway near the east end of the north wall within a small outbuilding of brick. An upper floor was inserted late in the 16th century; the west half has a chamfered beam with moulded stops, and exposed joists. The east half has a plainer beam. The roof is a much later one of queen-post type.
The west end of the chapel was cut off when the house was built. This is of late-17th-century brickwork with end chimney-stacks, of which the northern has a wide fire-place. Otherwise the house has been modernized.
Grove House, said to have been once a residence of the widow of the Reverend Charles Kingsley, stands ¾ mile east-north-east of the church at the fork of two main roads. It is of two stories and attics. The building has been very much renovated and its development is confused by the 'rough-cast' that conceals the material of which the walls are built. It is probably a timberframed house in the main, but parts may be of brickwork or masonry. The plan is comprised of a range facing east with gabled ends, and two long ranges extending westwards from the north and south ends of it, having a narrow courtyard between them. There is also a short gabled wing to the north of the north range. It may be assumed that the east range with short wings behind (west of) it is of Elizabethan origin (c. 1570) and that the wings were lengthened in 1609, the date that appears on the chimney-stack of the south range: these ranges have stone foundations. The short gabled projection on the north front, which has brick foundations, is probably a later addition. The south gable-head of the east range preserves the original 16th-century moulded barge-board with carved pendant posts at the apex and kneelers. The range consists of two rooms on each floor divided by an original heavy chimneystack, which on the ground floor has moulded stone Tudor fire-places back to back. The brick diagonal shafts above it have been rebuilt.
The principal entrance is in the north front and has an Elizabethan moulded oak doorway with moulded base-stops, and a plain nail-studded door. The entrance hall is lined with Elizabethan oak panelling with raised mouldings and has a chimney-piece made up of similar material. Behind the entrance hall is a good staircase of c. 1630 with panelled newels having ball-heads, and with turned balusters. The long room west of the entrance hall that includes the later north short wing has no ancient features, but the chimney-stack above its south end has three ancient diagonal shafts of brick. The west end of the long range shows a former square bay-window of ashlar stonework with a chamfered stone plinth: it has been altered subsequently.
The south range also has stone plinths. There are no noticeably old features internally, but the central square chimney-stack has four old diagonal shafts and has a sundial affixed to it above the tiled roof with the date 1609. This front has a middle doorway opposite the chimney-stack, and another gable-head besides that at the end of the east range. All the windows have been modernized and the roofs are of the ordinary 17th-century purlin type without any visibly distinctive trusses.
West of the house is a mid-17th-century outbuilding with blocked windows. The upper story of it is a long gallery. The stables north-east of the house, also of brick, contain 17th-century turned posts to the partitions between the stalls. Near by is a small brick inclosure, which according to local tradition once served as a bear pit.
Hill Farm, ½ mile south-west of the church, has some 17th-century timber-framed farm buildings.
The manor of Tachbrook, rated at 7 hides, had been given to the church of St. Chad at Lichfield before the Conquest and was therefore held in 1086 by the Bishop of Chester. (fn. 10) It continued to be held by the bishops, the seat of whose bishopric was later moved to Coventry and Lichfield, and was therefore known as BISHOP'S TACHBROOK. When Bishop Hugh de Nonant incurred the displeasure of Richard I it was seized into the king's hands in 1195, but was restored in the following year. (fn. 11) Henry III in 1259 granted to Bishop Roger and his successors free warren in this and other manors. (fn. 12) In 1285 the bishop established his right to hold view of frankpledge and the assize of bread and ale here. (fn. 13) In 1549 Richard Sampson, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, with the assent of the Dean and Chapter and of the king, sold the manor to Thomas Fisher. (fn. 14) He died in 1578 (fn. 15) and his son Edward was dealing with it in 1592. (fn. 16) Ten years later it was in the hands of Edward's son John, (fn. 17) who seems to have sold it to Edward Ferrars of Baddesley Clinton, as the manor was said to have been 'lately purchased' from the latter by Timothy Wagstaffe, who died seised thereof in December 1625, leaving a son Thomas, then 10 years old. (fn. 18) Thomas married Mary daughter and coheir of William Combe of Stratford-on-Avon, and their son Sir Combe Wagstaffe died unmarried in 1668, leaving his estates to his cousin (Sir) Thomas. On his death in 1709 the manor passed to his daughter Frances, wife of Sir Edward Bagot of Blithefield, Staffs. (fn. 19) After her first husband's death in 1712 she married Adolphus Oughton (fn. 20) (created a baronet in 1718), and he was lord of the manor in 1719. (fn. 21) The manor then returned to Frances's son Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot and his son William, who was created Baron Bagot in 1780. Immediately after his death in 1798 it was sold to George, Earl of Warwick, (fn. 22) with whose representatives it still remains.
Another portion of Tachbrook, containing 8 hides less 1 virgate, which had been held by Baldeuin, was in 1086 held of the Count of Meulan by one Rogers. (fn. 23) This subsequently constituted the manor of TACHBROOK MALLORY. (fn. 24) The overlordship descended in the Earls of Leicester and came to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, (fn. 25) being afterwards absorbed in the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 26) A mesne lordship was held from an early date by the family of Boteler of Oversley. About 1200 Henry de Clinton was holding a knight's fee here of Ralph Boteler; (fn. 27) William Boteler held it in 1296 (fn. 28) and in 1330, (fn. 29) and as late as 1504 the manor was said to be held of 'the heirs of Ralph Butler'. (fn. 30)
Sir Anchitel Mallory, who as Constable of Leicester played a prominent part in the rebellion of the Young King Henry in 1173–4, (fn. 31) forfeited his lands in Leicestershire and Warwickshire, (fn. 32) which included an estate in Tachbrook. (fn. 33) He seems to have recovered most of them by 1177 (fn. 34) and to have been succeeded in 1186 or 1187 by his son Robert; (fn. 35) but the latter's brother Henry, who had supported John against King Richard I in 1194, (fn. 36) in 1199 paid a fine to have seisin of all the lands which his father Anchitel had lost for supporting the Young King Henry. (fn. 37) At the same time he established his right to half the vill of Tachbrook against the canons of Kenilworth and Henry de Clinton. (fn. 38) Henry's son Gilbert was dealing with land in Tachbrook in 1227; (fn. 39) but another son, Richard, seems to have inherited the manor and to have been followed by his son William and grandson Sir Reynold. (fn. 40) The latter's son John settled property here on himself and his wife Margery in 1333, (fn. 41) and had a grant of free warren in Tachbook in 1335. (fn. 42) Next year he was described as the king's yeoman and was pardoned for not having taken up knighthood. (fn. 43) His great-great-grandson, John, died in 1489, (fn. 44) having settled the manor of Tachbrook Mallory on his son John and Joyce his wife, (fn. 45) who in 1496 sold it to Benet Medley. (fn. 46) He died in 1503, having settled the manor on his son William and Elizabeth his wife. (fn. 47) Their son George Medley in 1563 settled the manor on his son Henry at his marriage with Frances daughter of Clement Throckmorton. (fn. 48) This Henry died in 1578, leaving a young son Henry, (fn. 49) father (fn. 50) of Clement Medley of London who sold the manor in 1613 to Timothy Wagstaffe of the Middle Temple. (fn. 51) He purchased the manor of Bishop's Tachbrook (see above) about the same time, and the two have since descended together.
Henry de Clinton gave the vill of Tachbrook to the Priory of Kenilworth, (fn. 52) but disputes arose as to the exact extent of the grant, (fn. 53) and in 1202 it was agreed that the canons should have one moiety of the vill, including the chief messuage and a mill and the northern portion of the demesnes, to hold of Henry de Clinton as half a knight's fee, the other moiety being held by Henry Mallory. (fn. 54) Accordingly the half-fee was held by the prior of William Boteler in 1330, (fn. 55) and in 1465 common in Tachbrook was held jointly by the prior and John Mallory. (fn. 56) In 1291 the rents in Tachbrook Mallory and the farm of the mill were worth £3 6s. 8d.; (fn. 57) in 1532 the monastery's lands were leased for 41 years to William 'Madeley' (or Medley) at a rent of £7 9s. 4d. (fn. 58) They were granted by Queen Elizabeth in 1562 to Bartholomew Brokesbye and Edmund Downyng, who at once sold them to the tenant, George Medley; (fn. 59) by which sale the two moieties of the manor were reunited.
Geoffrey de Clinton gave land in Tachbrook to the Knights Templars, (fn. 60) and his son Henry gave (or confirmed) to them 1 virgate here, which they apparently lost in, or before, 1200. (fn. 61) The Abbot of Bordesley had a carucate, worth £1, in Tachbrook in 1291; (fn. 62) and the Trinitarian Friars of Thelsford had rents to the value of 73s. 4d. here at the Dissolution, when they came into the hands of John Brogden. (fn. 63)
The parish church of ST. CHAD, which stands north of most of the village, consists of a chancel with a north vestry, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and a west tower. The building is of mid-12th-century origin, as indicated by the angles of the nave, blocked windows in the north wall of the chancel, and a reset doorway in the north aisle. The north aisle and west tower were added late in the 14th century, followed by the south aisle early in the 15th century and then the clearstory. There appears to have been a good deal of alteration in the 18th century, round-headed windows being inserted in the east walls of the chancel and aisles. These have now been abolished. The chancel is said to have been rebuilt in 1855, but this applies only to the east and south walls. The vestry was built in 1898, and there was a further restoration in 1923.
The churchyard is almost on the crest of the small hill on which the village stands, and the south and east sides rise considerably above the roadway with revetting walls.
The chancel (about 27 ft. by 20 ft.) has an east window of three lights and tracery and two south windows, each of one light and tracery, in walls which are either modern or faced with ashlar and plastered inside. The north wall is ancient and about 3 ft. thick. The exterior, now covered by the vestry, is divided into two bays by 15th- or 16th-century buttresses of white ashlar stone. The eastern bay is faced, where visible above the wall-lining, with modern ashlar but retains an 8½ in. blocked small window of the 12th century in yellow Edge Hill stone with diagonal tooling: the arched head is partly concealed by the vestry roof. The western bay shows the original small, roughly-squared rubble facing and has a taller 16 in. blocked window. The head, level with the other, is hidden, but the jambstones are similarly tooled, indicating a 12th-century light widened in the 13 th or 14th century. There is no trace of them in the chancel, the eastern being hidden by a monument and the rest of the wall plastered. At the west end is a modern exit and approach to the vestry. The modern roof is of barrel-vault type.
The chancel arch, of two chamfered orders, is acutely pointed but all of modern stonework.
The nave (41 ft. by 21½ ft.) has north and south arcades of three bays: the northern, of 12¾ ft. bays, has pointed arches of two wave-moulded orders that are continued without break in the piers and responds; the bases are moulded. It is all of yellow Edge Hill stone and with small to medium-sized voussoirs. The walling above is of roughly squared rubble in the haunches with a course of larger squared stones above the apexes and over this quite small rubble-work up to the sills of the clearstory windows. The bays of the south arcade are of slightly less span and height. Of its two orders the inner is a large ovolo mould and the outer a sunk chamfer, both continuous and stopping abruptly on square plinths. The stone is similar but the voussoirs are larger. The walling above is of squared rubble, more evenly set than in the northern. West of the arcade the wall thickens about a foot on the aisle side and has good angle-dressings. This thickening is probably a relic of the 12th-century nave.
The clearstory has three windows on the north side and four on the south, each of two trefoiled ogeeheaded lights and foiled spandrels in a square head. The splays are of roughly tooled grey-white ashlar with some very long large stones. The external wall-faces are of even ashlar work and above are restored plain parapets with two old lion gargoyles on the south side. On the north side is a row of five putlog holes, indicating that the lean-to aisle roof was formerly higher than now.
The low-pitched roof of the nave is divided into four bays by hollow-chamfered cross-beams and wallposts of the 15th century, but it was reconstructed in 1704, the date carved on the westernmost beam. The curved braces and wood corbels are of the later period.
The north aisle (8 ft. wide) has a modern east window of two lights and tracery, set in place of an 18th-century window of which the round head still remains in place. In the north wall are three late-14th-century windows, each of two trefoiled lights and tracery in a square head, all of much weather-worn brown Hornton stone. The splays and segmentalpointed rear-arches are plastered. Between the windows are two huge modern raking buttresses. The reset 12th-century doorway farther west is walled up. It has jambs of two square orders with nook-shafts having moulded bases and scalloped capitals with chamfered abaci. The round head has a square inner order and a bowtell-moulded outer, with a hood-mould decorated with conical nail-head ornament. The west window is of two lights under a square head. The walls are of ashlar with a moulded plinth of two courses and there are old diagonal buttresses at the angles. A broken vertical seam in the west wall shows the junction with the nave angle. The lean-to roof, probably of the 18th century, has also principals dividing it into four bays.
The south aisle (about 8 ft. wide at the east end and less at the west end) has a similar modern east window in place of an 18th-century window, the head of which remains. Of the three south windows the easternmost, of two cinquefoiled lights under a square head with a label, has been restored. The second is of two trefoiled lights and a foiled spandrel under a square head with a segmental rear-arch. The workmanship is rather crude compared with the third, which is of the same type but narrower and with a higher sill.
The pointed south doorway is modern. The west window, of two plain square-headed lights, was formerly foiled like the others: the internal splays and the lintel, similarly splayed, are plastered. The west wall, inside, has a footing 16 in. high and 6 in. deep, indicative perhaps of a later thinning of the wall. Externally the wall is of coursed square ashlar with the diagonal buttress and a little of the south wall where it breaks joint with the rest of the south masonry. The south plinth stops short at this break, practically in line with the internal footing. The masonry to the east of the porch is more regular ashlar and has a good circular scratched sundial. A straight joint in the east wall marks the original south-east angle of the nave. Internally the south wall is faced with thin plaster and retains ancient wall-paintings, described below. The lean-to roof is divided into four bays by three plain principal rafters, the two western having curved braces and outer wall-posts on wood corbels, probably of the 18th century: the common rafters are exposed. The south porch, of the 18th century, of stone with a gabled wall, has a three-centred entrance archway with plain courses. It was restored in 1931. The roofs of the chancel and south aisle are tiled; the nave and north aisle have lead roofs.
The west tower (about 12½ ft. east to west by 11 ft.) is of three stories, but unbroken by string-courses. The walls are of ashlar with some very large courses, especially in the lower half, and have restored embattled parapets. At the angles are diagonal buttresses of nearly full height. The eastern pair are set against the north and south walls to obtain a seating on the nave west wall, instead of being equally on the angles. The twocentred archway towards the nave is lofty and of two hollow-chamfered orders continued without a break from the responds, which have square bases. The west window is of three cinquefoiled lights and restored tracery in a two-centred head with an old hood-mould and roughly carved head-stops. Below it is cut a modern doorway. The second story is unlighted except for a later small piercing on the south side, with a triangular head and sill. The bell-chamber is lit by tall narrow windows of two trefoiled lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. Below the southern is a modern clock.
The communion table is of the 17th century; it is about 5 ft. 2 in. long, but the top has been lengthened at each end: the legs are turned and the top-rails are carved with guilloche ornament.
Two chairs in the chancel, presented in 1841, have the backs partly made up of 15th-century traceried panels from old screens or desks.
The font in the south aisle is modern but under the tower arch is set a much damaged tapering round fontbowl which was replaced in the church in 1928; the lower edges have been hacked back to form an octagon. In the south aisle is a framed chest with churchwardens' names and the date 1747.
On the south wall of the south aisle between the windows east of the doorway are fragmentary remains of wall paintings. They are of two periods; the earlier, of the 15th century, are black letter inscriptions, probably in Latin, below a band of quatrefoils; the later are probably 16th-century inscriptions in English painted over the others in panels with new borders of strapwork and foliage patterns: these patterns covered some of the earlier lettering. The inscriptions are too fragmentary to be made out: a few of the letters were in red. The earlier letters are larger than the others. The top band of quatrefoils is in black but it had a later band of red above it. A band of the later period below the panels was in blue and yellow as well as black and red.
On the north side of the chancel is a large monument of veined white marble to Coombe Wagstaffe only son of Thomas, died 16 January 1667–8. It has Corinthian shafts supporting an entablature and broken curved pediment with an achievement of arms.
On the south side is another of similar material to Sir Thomas Wagstaffe, 22 January 1708–9, and Frances (Samwell) his wife, 21 July 1706, erected by their only daughter, Dame Frances Bagot. It has composite shafts supporting a curved pediment, two cherubs, a flaming urn and an achievement of arms. On the same wall another mural monument is to John Wagstaffe, 4 June 1681, and Alice (Stinton) his wife, 4 November 1681. A tablet in the north aisle is to John, son of Sir John Rous of Worcester, who married Mary, widow of Thomas Wagstaffe and died 6 November 1680; she died 3 March 1686–7. It has a broken curved pediment and achievement of arms.
There are three bells, (fn. 64) the treble of 1653, the second of 1719 (by Richard Sanders), and the third of 1740.
A paten of 1699 is the only old piece of communion plate in use at the church: 'ex dono Thos. Wagstaffe 1700'. There is also a chalice and a flagon, not in regular use, each bearing the same inscription and the arms of Wagstaffe.
The registers begin in 1538, but there are several gaps in the early period.
There was a priest attached to the bishop's manor of Tachbrook in 1086 (fn. 65) and the advowson of the church remained in the hands of the bishops. By the middle of the 13th century the rectory had been appropriated to form the corpus of the Prebend of Tachbrook in Lichfield Cathedral. (fn. 66) In 1291, however, Tachbrook is not named among the prebends, (fn. 67) and the church is entered as worth £20. (fn. 68) At some time during the next 30 years a vicarage must have been ordained, the advowson of which was reserved to the bishop. (fn. 69) In 1535 the prebend was worth £10, and the vicarage £5 13s. 4d. (fn. 70) Bishop Richard Sampson in 1549 sold the advowson to Thomas Fisher with the manor, (fn. 71) to which it remained attached until at least 1702. (fn. 72) By 1717 the patronage was in the hands of the Prebendary of Tachbrook, (fn. 73) with whom it remained until 1796, when the advowson was vested by Act of Parliament in the bishop. (fn. 74) In 1852 it was transferred to the Bishop of Worcester, (fn. 75) but in 1918 it was conveyed to the Bishop of Coventry, in whose hands it now is.
In 1336 John Mallory had licence to alienate in mortmain a messuage, a virgate of land, and 3 acres of meadow in Tachbrook for a chaplain to celebrate daily in the chapel of St. James for the souls of himself and his wife Margery. (fn. 76) The chantry had evidently fallen out of use before 1493, in which year John Mallory conveyed to Benet Medley land and 'a former chapel of St. James and St. Luke' in Tachbrook. (fn. 77) The remains of the chapel are now incorporated in a farmhouse (see above).
Thomas Thompson gave in 1784 £100 and ordered two-thirds of the produce of his gift to be distributed annually among the poor of Tachbrook and the other third among the poor of Milverton. The Tachbrook share is now represented by £59. 5s. 6d. 3 per cent. Savings Bonds 1955–65, the income from which is distributed to the poor of the parish.
The Foster Trust. Emma Foster by will proved 18 June 1946 devised to the vicar and churchwardens of St. Chad's Church, Bishop's Tachbrook, her freehold house and premises known as 'Westfield' and directed the rents and profits to be used for the general expenses of the said church.