A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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This large parish, 3 miles from east to west with an average depth of 2 miles, lies on the boundary of Oxfordshire, from which it is separated on the east by a ridgeway known as Ditchedge Lane and Beggar's Lane. This lane runs on high ground, mostly above the 600-ft. contour line and touching 700 ft. at a point not far from where a road leads off westwards, dropping in the space of a mile and a half to 350 ft. at the church and village of Lower Brailes. A mile beyond this the south-west corner of the parish is occupied by Brailes Hill, which reaches a height of about 760 ft. and commands extensive views over an attractive country-side. To the north-west of Lower Brailes is the hamlet of Upper Brailes, where a small hill known as Castle Hill is crowned with a complex of earthworks of obscure origin. (fn. 1) A mile north-east of the church is the smaller hamlet of Winderton, on the side of a hill; and north of this, on the lower ground, the farms of Upper and Lower Chelmscote.
Although there are no large blocks of woodland, there are numerous copses and spinneys, particularly in the neighbourhood of the hamlets. The Sutton Brook runs southwards through Lower Brailes and on it was no doubt the water-mill mentioned in the Domesday Survey as worth 10s. (fn. 2) and frequently referred to as attached to the manor until at least 1659. (fn. 3)
The parish church is situated at Lower Brailes, on rising ground to the north of the main road. The village is scattered along both sides of the road and its buildings are mostly small and of the usual Cotswold type with stone walls, &c., dating back in some cases to the 16th or 17th century, but few are distinctive individually.
The George Inn opposite the church is probably a late-16th-century building; it retains two of its original stone-mullioned windows with labels but has otherwise been much altered. A house a little west of it is dated 1699. Two or three other cottages farther south-east also have like mullioned windows. A larger house south-east of the church, facing south, had its main front block refaced with 18th-century brickwork but preserves, inside, some 16th-century moulded ceiling beams and a good 17th-century well-type staircase with heavy turned balusters. Behind at right angles are two adjoining parallel wings of stone work, and in one of the rooms oak wall panelling of the 17th century with a carved frieze and an overmantel of two arched panels.
Upper Brailes is generally a later settlement with many red brick houses, but the Gate Inn, of stone, may be of the 17th century, subsequently much altered, and a thatched cottage nearly opposite, has moulded mullioned stone windows of the 17th century. Near the north end on the east side of the road is another gabled stone house possibly of the 17th century; this has, reset in the gable, the pointed head of a 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights and a quatrefoil, probably from a church. From inquiries it appears to have been in its present place for the last 80 to 100 years and it is not known whence it came.
At Winderton is an attractive group of farm-houses, cottages, &c., with its picturesqueness much enhanced by the varying levels of the ground. Several of the buildings have 17th-century stone-mullioned windows and thatched roofs. One has a blocked Tudor doorway with a very massive head and label. At the south-west end of the hamlet is the church of SS. Peter and Paul, built of local stone in 1878; it consists of an apsidal chancel, nave, and south porch-tower.
Close to the churchyard of the parish church is the Roman Catholic chapel of SS. Peter and Paul, built by a member of the Bishop family in 1726 (fn. 4) and subsequently enlarged. There are also two Methodist chapels in the parish, and in 1850 there was a Friends' Meeting House, said to have been erected in the time of their founder, George Fox. (fn. 5)
There was a good deal of early inclosure, particularly in the north of the parish. In Brailes itself William Brown, presumably the king's servant of that name who was granted in 1485 the offices of bailiff of the lordship and keeper of the warren of Brailes, (fn. 6) in 1491 destroyed a messuage and converted 12 virgates, of 16 acres each, of arable into pasture, putting 4 ploughs out of use and ejecting 16 persons. (fn. 7) In 1518 John Hugford was said to have inclosed 240 acres, to the loss of 5 ploughs. (fn. 8) More serious inroads were made in Chelmscote. Here the process seems to have begun about 1460, (fn. 9) and in 1510 Richard Grenvile, who held of the king 3 messuages, a cottage, and 120 acres of arable here, inclosed 'the whole of this vill' with hedges and ditches, destroyed the buildings, and converted the land to pasture, whereby 3 ploughs were lost and 26 persons 'departed in tears'. (fn. 10) About the same time the Master and Brethren of the Gild of Holy Trinity and St. George of Warwick inclosed a messuage and a carucate (i.e. 60 acres) of land, to the loss of 1 plough and 7 persons. (fn. 11) Also William (or Richard) Brown, perpetual chaplain of the chantry of Chelmscote, inclosed a messuage and 50 acres of land, to the loss of 1 plough and 6 persons. (fn. 12) Later, in 1547, William Willington, who held 4 messuages and 330 acres of arable in Chelmscote on lease from William Walter and Isabel his wife, converted the messuages into cottages (by depriving them of their land) and turned 200 acres into pasture; he also acted in the same way with a messuage and 60 acres which were his own property. (fn. 13) Under an Act of 1784 (fn. 14) most of the remaining land in the parish, to the extent of 3,500 acres, was inclosed, and the process was completed by the inclosure of Winderton in 1854. (fn. 15)
The manor of BRAILES, which had been held by Earl Edwin, was retained after the Conquest by King William. It was assessed at the large figure of 46 hides, this probably including Tanworth (q.v.), and was valued at £55, in addition to a render of 20 horseloads of salt (from Droitwich). (fn. 16) By 1130 it had been granted to the Earl of Warwick, who in that year had to pay 200 marks 'ut rex perdonaret ei superplus' hidarum de manerio de Brailes'. (fn. 17) It continued to be one of the chief demesne manors of the earls and descended with the earldom and the castle of Warwick, coming eventually to the Crown. In 1247 William Maudit and Alice his wife, heir apparent of the Warwick estates, granted that if Margery, sister and heir of Thomas, late Earl of Warwick, died without issue her husband John de Plessy might retain for life certain manors including Brailes. (fn. 18) In the following year John and Margery obtained a grant of a market on Monday and a fair on the eve, day, and morrow of St. George in their manor of Brailes. (fn. 19) Complaint was made in 1275 that the earl's bailiffs took excessive tolls at the market. (fn. 20) In 1278 Earl William de Beauchamp leased the manor to Richard de Mundeville and Maud his wife for their lives. (fn. 21) At this time the manor included 60 virgates held by villeins and some 40 virgates held by freeholders. (fn. 22) It was valued in 1315 at £93 5s. 4¾d., only a few shillings less than the castle and manor of Warwick and about twice the value of any other of the earl's manors. (fn. 23)
The survey of 1279 mentions a park of 30 acres and a warren; (fn. 24) nothing more is heard of the park, but when the Warwick lands were in the hands of the Crown appointments to the office of bailiff of Brailes usually included the office of warrener, (fn. 25) and the coney warren was included in a lease of the manor-house and demesnes made to William Raynsford in 1539. (fn. 26)
In December 1546 the manor was granted to Thomas Wymbish and the Lady Elizabeth Taylbois his wife, (fn. 27) who next year made a conveyance of the manor-house, lands, water-mill, horse-mill, rabbit warren, and tolls of fairs and markets to William Sheldon and Mary his wife. (fn. 28) This grant seems not to have become effective, as in 1551 Thomas Wymbish and Elizabeth conveyed the same property to Edward Fiennes, Lord Clinton and Say. (fn. 29) He subsequently exchanged the manor to the Crown, (fn. 30) who apparently still held it in 1610, when the king's tenants in Brailes were negotiating for the purchase of their holdings in fee. (fn. 31) By 1630 Ralph Sheldon was lord of the manor (fn. 32) and it has continued to descend in this family. (fn. 33)
In 1242 Peter de Montfort held ¼ knight's fee in Brailes of the Earl of Warwick, (fn. 34) and at the time of his death at the battle of Evesham in 1265 he had lands here producing 19s. in rents. (fn. 35) His son Peter in 1279 held as ¼ fee 16 virgates, of which he had given the rents to Richard de Wroxhull, who gave them with his daughter in marriage to Robert atte Townsende. (fn. 36) This Peter's son John held 1 hide in Brailes in 1295; (fn. 37) his son Peter in 1316 held the ¼ fee, which is then called OVER BRAILES, (fn. 38) and in 1326 settled an estate in Little Brailes on himself with contingent remainder to (his illegitimate son) (fn. 39) John son of Lore de Ullenhall. (fn. 40) It would seem, however, that the property descended with Beaudesert (q.v.) to the Astons as representatives of one of Peter's sisters, as in 1464 Sir Robert Aston, (fn. 41) and in 1483 his son John (fn. 42) held land in Brailes. It has not been traced beyond this, but it is possible that it may be represented by a so-called manor of Over Brailes conveyed to John Hunt by Mary and Constance Workman, spinsters, in 1703–5. (fn. 43)
When Nicholas de Segrave was taken prisoner at Evesham he was holding property in Brailes which produced £6 7s. in rents, (fn. 44) and in 1279 this was defined as 8 virgates, held as ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 45) In the inquisitions taken after the death of Guy, Earl of Warwick, in 1315 this is described in two places as 1/6 fee held by John de Segrave and once as ¼ fee held by Roger de Pottenham; (fn. 46) Roger (fn. 47) was presumably tenant or lessee. As late as 1400 this 1/6 fee was said to be held by the heirs of John Segrave, (fn. 48) but it had probably lost its identity before this time.
In 1190 William de Turville mortgaged to Richard Kent of Warwick his land in CHELMSCOTE. (fn. 49) This was probably part of the knight's fee held of the Earl of Warwick in 1166 by Geoffrey de Turville. (fn. 50) It passed with Fulbrook (q.v.) to William's daughters Cecily and Pernel and their respective husbands Roger de Craft and Simon de Turville, who were jointly holding ½ knight's fee here in 1235. (fn. 51) By 1242 the tenants were Roger de Craft and John Mace, (fn. 52) and the whole seems to have come to Roger and on his death, c. 1250, to have passed to Beatrice, one of his sisters and coheirs, who married Henry Hubaud. (fn. 53) He had £5 5s. rents in Chelmscote in 1265, (fn. 54) and in 1279 was called lord of Chelmscote, which he held as a half-fee, (fn. 55) as did John Hubaud in 1315 (fn. 56) and Thomas Hubaud in 1400. (fn. 57)
In 1348 Laurence de Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, died seised of rents of free and customary tenants in Chelmscote, (fn. 58) which were assigned in dower to his widow Agnes. (fn. 59) In 1387 John de Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, made a settlement which included the manor of Chelmscote, (fn. 60) as did his heir Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, in 1400. (fn. 61) About this time Lord Grey is said to have conveyed the manor to John Lee, who transferred it to Baldwin Boteler in 1432, (fn. 62) with whose daughter it passed in marriage to Eustace Grenvile. (fn. 63) A complication is introduced by the fact that in 1406 the advowson of the free chapel (see below) of Chelmscote and a moiety of the manor were in the hands of John Willicotes and Alice his wife. (fn. 64) However, by 1517 when Richard Grenvile (son of Eustace) died, the advowson of the chapel and the whole manor had been settled by him on his son Edward. (fn. 65) The manor, which contained 330 acres of arable inclosed with hedges, as well as Dovehouse Close and other lands in Over and Nether Brailes, was held by Richard Grenvile who died in 1604, (fn. 66) and by his son Richard in 1618, (fn. 67) whose son Richard in about 1637 sold it to Richard Shuckborough of that ilk. (fn. 68) From his descendants it was bought by Clement Somerford of Brill (Bucks.), whose daughter Jane married Samuel Evans of Furnival's Inn and after his death sold it, c. 1690, to Thomas Middleton of Tysoe. (fn. 69) A Thomas Middleton conveyed it in 1746 to John Hart, (fn. 70) possibly on mortgage, as in 1772 Catharine Middleton, spinster, and William Davies conveyed the manor of Lower Chelmscote to Richard Dodwell, (fn. 71) acting perhaps for William Sheldon, who seems to have acquired it about this time. (fn. 72)
In 1631 Spencer, Earl of Northampton, was dealing with a manor of Chelmscote, (fn. 73) which continued in this family, (fn. 74) the property descending to the present Marquess of Northampton, though the manorial rights appear to have lapsed.
Half a knight's fee in WINDERTON was held of the Earl of Warwick in 1242 by Robert Deyville. (fn. 75) It was apparently acquired by Robert de Vipont, who died in 1265 leaving two daughters coheirs, of whom Idonea married first Roger de Leyburne and secondly John de Cromwell, and Isabel married Roger de Clifford. (fn. 76) In 1267 Sir Roger de Clifford held the half-fee, (fn. 77) and also in 1279; (fn. 78) but in 1316 it was held by Sir John de Cromwell by exchange from Sir Robert de Clifford (fn. 79) (son of Sir Roger), or, according to another inquisition, by Sir John de Cromwell and Henry de Clifford. (fn. 80) The Vipont inheritance had not been divided when Sir Roger died in 1282, (fn. 81) but in 1286 John de Cromwell and Idonea had settled the manor of Winderton on themselves for the life of Idonea with remainder to Sir Hugh le Despenser the younger. (fn. 82) Claims were registered at the time by Roger son of Robert de Clifford, and by Roger de Tyringham and Christine his wife, (fn. 83) who claimed that the manor had belonged to Hugh d'Eyville, uncle of Christine. (fn. 84)
When Robertde Clifford fell at Bannockburn in 1314 he owned 100s. in rents from 8 villeins in the manor of Winderton, (fn. 85) and on the attainder of his son Roger for rebellion in 1322 these rents were granted to Hugh le Despenser, with remainder to his son Edward. (fn. 86) Roger's brother Robert de Clifford recovered his estates and in 1340 had licence to alienate to the abbey of Haughmond a moiety of the vill of Winderton. (fn. 87) The property is not recorded in the Valor of 1535, but in 1547 it consisted of 8 virgates, the rents of which produced 70s. (fn. 88) It is said to have been granted in 1575 to John Dudley and John Ascough. (fn. 89)
Idonea widow of Sir John de Cromwell (fn. 90) died in 1334 holding the manor of Winderton of Robert de Clifford by demise of his father Robert. (fn. 91) Under the settlement of 1286 it passed to Sir Edward le Despenser, who died seised of it in 1375. (fn. 92) Constance widow of Edward's son Thomas, Lord Despenser, had a grant of the manor for life in 1400. (fn. 93) Thomas's daughter Isabel married Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and in 1439 had licence to assign it in trust towards the execution of her will, (fn. 94) but on her death later in that year it passed to her son Henry (fn. 95) and subsequently descended with the Warwick estates, coming to the Crown in the time of Henry VII. The manor was granted in 1554 to Michael Throckmorton, (fn. 96) who died in 1558 and was succeeded by his son Francis. (fn. 97)
One manor of Winderton was held from 1759 to 1835 by the Earls and Marquesses of Northampton, (fn. 98) and another between 1803 and 1830 by the family of Sheldon. (fn. 99) Both manors appear to be now extinct.
The building, locally called the 'Cathedral of the Feldon', is the largest church in the Hundred of Kington. It contains no architectural details of earlier date than the late 13th century, but excavations in 1879 are said to have revealed 12th-century foundations below the south arcade of the nave. (fn. 100) Apart from the 15th-century tower and porch the main structure grew to its present size chiefly during the 14th century. The south aisle and arcade were added about 1280. There is some evidence in the fabric, not altogether conclusive, that the arcade at least was of two periods, the eastern three, or possibly four, bays being of the late 13th century and probably marking the length of the original 12th-century nave, the western bays being of c. 1330–40. The chancel was entirely rebuilt early in the 14th century, and then the nave was largely remodelled, and possibly lengthened, and the clearstory added and a new roof provided. Much of the south arcade was reconstructed and the aisle given a new roof and parapet. The few ball-flowers that appear in both string-courses suggest an early-14th-century date, but the other carvings and the types of windows point more to a date nearer the middle of the century, say 1340.
The evidence in connexion with the north arcade and aisle is confused by later alterations. The arcade is said to have been rebuilt with the north clearstory in 1649; (fn. 101) and they were again reconstructed in 1879, when the massive square piers were cut down to their present octagonal forms and provided with capitals and bases of 14th-century type. Rediscovered fragments are said to have served as a basis for the new windows; whether there was any such authority for the arcade does not appear, but some of the voussoirs seem to have survived both reconstructions. It is remarkable if nothing was left of the original pillars and capitals but, if the thickened wall at the east end and the base that survives at the west respond are indications of the former thickness of the arcade wall, one may conjecture that the square piers were too massive for 17th-century work and were really, in part at least, much earlier, and the 17th-century rebuilding was confined to the upper parts. The aisle has square-headed 14th-century windows, more or less like those of the clearstory, but the outline of a former pointed east window, the mouldings of the north doorway, the moulded plinth and the walling all suggest that the north aisle may be earlier than the south.
Presumably the nave had 14th-century pierced parapets like that of the south aisle and lost them in the 17th century and there were probably similar carvings on the north side, as at Tysoe Church, but if so all traces of them have been obliterated. Another curious feature is the change of design in the east and west halves of the nave, both in the clearstory windows and the roof construction, supporting the theory that the east half was altered first. The chancel is said to have the 14th-century roof above the present ceiling. The west tower and south porch were added probably about the middle of the 15th century.
The date 1649 on a former spandrel of the west doorway seems to mark a period of extensive reconstruction which includes this doorway, the rebuilding of the north side of the nave, and the addition of a north vestry east of the aisle. The date 1649—the year of the execution of King Charles I—may also imply that these repairs, &c., were necessitated by damage done directly or indirectly by the Civil War.
A board in the church records the grants of money for repairs, &c., in 1823, 1876, and 1931. The first probably had mostly to do with internal seating, &c., but the restoration carried out in 1879 was more drastic, including the second rebuilding of the north side of the nave and the repair and reconstruction of the nave roof with the old material. The vestry was enlarged in 1892. The repairs of 1932 appear to have been chiefly to the weather-worn external masonry of the parapets and tower.
The chancel (about 46 ft. by 21 ft.) has a 14thcentury east window of five trefoiled ogee-headed lights and net tracery in a two-centred head, with an external hood-mould having head-stops, and a chamfered pointed rear-arch. The jambs, &c., are of two chamfered orders and the window is of whitish stone. The two windows in the north wall are of c. 1330 but differ in design. The eastern is of two trefoiled ogeeheaded lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a hood-mould with head-stops, and a segmentalpointed rear-arch. The second, in the middle of the wall, is a narrower window of two trefoiled pointed lights and a different form of quatrefoil in the pointed head with a similar hood-mould. The jambs of both are of one chamfered order and externally they are almost completely of a dark red sandstone. On the jambs of the eastern are several masons' marks—a spear-head in outline. West of them is a modern wide archway to the vestry and organ-chamber.
Of the three windows in the south wall the middle is like that opposite; the eastern is of the same character, but is of three wider lights with quatrefoiled interlacing tracery. Both are of the same red-brown stone externally, and the eastern also has the same masons' marks. The large western window, of yellow stone, is a 15thcentury insertion of four cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a hood-mould having diamond volute stops. The moulded jambs and head have wide casement hollows. The priests' doorway is of the 14th century with moulded jambs, of restored yellow stone, and old pointed head of the red-brown stone and a hoodmould with head-stops.
Below the south-east window is a 14th-century piscina with chamfered jambs and trefoiled ogee head with soffit cusps and a hood-mould. At the back is a shelf, but there is now no basin. West of it are three stepped sedilia with trefoiled ogee heads and with shaped elbows to the partitions (partly restored). The western is of light cream stone, the other two of red-brown stone. On the north side is a plain locker.
The walls are ashlar-faced outside and have much modern patching: inside they are of approximately coursed rough ashlar. The gabled east wall has modern copings, &c.; the side-walls lean outwards and have later buttresses. The roof is covered with stone tiles and has plain eaves-courses. The construction is hidden by a seven-sided wagon-head panelled ceiling with moulded ribs and conventional carved bosses, which may be of the 15th or early 16th century.
The chancel arch has been rebuilt and is partly of modern yellow stones and partly of 14th-century redbrown stones re-used and (some) re-tooled. It is of two-chamfered orders, the inner with modern moulded capitals and moulded bases: the north base is probably ancient, of red-brown stone, retooled. The walling above the arch, of rough ashlar, is also partly old redbrown and partly modern yellow stonework.
The north vestry and organ chamber is of two periods, marked by a straight joint in the masonry of its east wall. The part of the wall next to the chancel is of 1649, but has a 14th-century window from the north wall of the chancel, like the second north window. The north part is an enlargement of 1892.
The nave (about 88 ft. by 23 ft.) has north and south arcades of six bays. The north has octagonal pillars, so fashioned from existing square piers in 1879, (fn. 102) and responds of two chamfered orders. The capitals, of uniform size, vary in contour, but the bases, of similar section to those of the chancel arch, are all alike. That to the east respond, of brown stone, may be ancient, and possibly its capital, of cream yellow stone. The pointed arches, of two chamfered orders, are of small and medium-sized voussoirs. These, of light yellow stone, may be ancient, as there are repairs mixed with them of a grey-white stone of a finer texture. The wall is only about 2 ft. thick, but east of the east respond it thickens out 9 in. on the aisle side and has ancient brown stone angle-dressings: this projection rises to just below the aisle roof, as though it was a shallow buttress against the nave wall. Also at the west respond is a chamfered square plinth or sub-base, about 3 ft. thick, of an earlier (probably medieval) respond, indicating that the wall above must originally have been thicker than the present one. The walling above the arcade is of coursed squared rubble in yellow, grey, and re-used brown stones.
The south arcade (mostly 14½-ft. bays) has octagonal pillars of a whitish stone in medium and large courses. The capitals vary in size as well as in their contours. In the easternmost and westernmost pillars and the west respond they are small (7–8 in.); in the east respond and other pillars larger (10–11 in.). Probably the smaller capitals are late-13th-century, belonging originally to the east half of the arcade and redistributed later. The bases also vary in section, those to the fifth pillar and west respond being chamfered, the others moulded mostly in late-13th-century forms.
The pointed arches are of two chamfered orders. In the three eastern bays the voussoirs are of the 13thcentury small sizes, but in the fourth and fifth bays the springing stones of the inner order are very large. The walling above is of rubble, roughly coursed in the first bay but irregularly set in the remainder. There are slight indications of a vertical seam above the third pillar.
The clearstory has twelve 14th-century windows in each side, each of two trefoiled lights and tracery in a square main head with an external label. The eastern six have ogee heads to the lights and semi-quatrefoil piercings. The six western have round heads to the lights and a later form of quatrefoil over each light, the line of the mullion being continued up. Of the six eastern on the south side all but the easternmost are lower than those in the west half. The north windows are restorations in yellow stone, and the wall is of coursed yellow ashlar with a plain parapet and panelled pinnacles with crocketed finials. The south wall is of ancient coursed brown stones. The parapet is plain, with similar pinnacles, probably of old restoration, but its moulded string-course is crowded with varied carvings of the 14th century. Many of them are human faces spouting foliage from their mouths: one woman's head has a Queen Philippa square coiffure with braided side hair; some are grotesques and there are several beasts' heads, also three ball-flowers. (fn. 103) There are also five gargoyles with grotesque human faces.
The roof is almost flat and is covered with lead. The two halves vary a little; the east half has three main bays divided by intermediate trusses. The four main trusses have hollow-chamfered main beams, wall-posts, and large curved braces, the spandrels of which are traceried. The intermediate trusses have smaller curved braces. The west half, of six bays, has five trusses, somewhat similar, but the beams and wall-posts are plain chamfered and the braces ovolo-moulded. Many of the beams have been repaired and one or two replaced. They appear to have had bosses on their soffits originally. The easternmost free main beam has remains of 15thcentury painted decoration—the chamfers with imitation paterae (flowers and faces), the soffit with checker patterning, and the west face with large circular panels containing human heads in profile and with haloes. Between them are short black-letter inscriptions. The middle panel has an eagle. The third truss also retains conventional decoration on the braces, but the beam itself is modern. The stone corbels carrying the trusses are mostly carved with heads with various forms of head-dresses of the mid-late 14th-century. There are also beast-heads and foliage, and one showing two canopied pointed arched bays.
The north aisle (about 12 ft. wide) has in its east wall the outline of a pointed window of three lights, apparently earlier than the other aisle windows. It was blocked up and its south splay was destroyed for the encroaching masonry of a 15th-century rood-stair turret. The outline of the square-headed doorway to the vice still remains, with its threshold 4 ft. 9 in. above the floor. It is blocked with modern masonry, and the vice seems to have been utilized as a chimney flue from the vestry fire-place. Traces of the upper doorway of the vice exist in the north wall of the chancel, its lintel being about 2 ft. below the chancel wall-plate. Below the window is a doorway into the vestry: its jambs and pointed head (which cuts into the blocking masonry) are moulded in two ovolo orders, presumably of the 17th century. In it is an ancient oak battened door, having on the vestry side plain rails of re-used earlier woodwork, as they retain fragments of pre-Reformation 'black' letters, a cross, &c., in black paint. The walling on the vestry side is plastered, but it retains the original plinth of two splayed courses with a roll-mould at the top.
In the north wall are five windows, each of two trefoiled lights and tracery in a square head, with an external moulded label. All are variations of the designs of the clearstory windows and differ slightly from each other in width and height. They are probably midto late-14th century insertions. The north doorway has jambs and a pointed head of two moulded orders of c. 1300 and a plain chamfered hood-mould. The west window, a wider one, is of two cinquefoiled ogeeheaded lights and plain tracery in a square head with a label: it is probably later than the other windows. The walls are of small courses of ashlar with larger angledressings, and the plinth is like that to the east wall. At the top is a hollow-chamfered projecting string-course. The plain parapet and the roof, of low lean-to type, are of the 17th or 18th century.
The south aisle (about 12 ft. wide) has a late-13thcentury east window of three trefoiled pointed lights with soffit cusps, and plate tracery consisting of two cinquefoiled circles and a middle trefoiled circle, all below a two-centred external hood-mould and of yellow-grey stone. The pointed rear-arch is of square section. In the south splay is a piece of an early-13thcentury coffin-lid set as a quoin-stone; it has a carved circular cross-head in relief. In the south wall are five windows: the easternmost is of three trefoiled pointed lights, with pierced soffit-cusps, and uncusped intersecting tracery on a two-centred head with a hoodmould. The other four are each of three plain lancets, perhaps of old restoration, but having original internal splays like the other and chamfered segmental-pointed rear-arches.
The south doorway is over 6½ ft. wide. It has continuous jambs and two-centred head of three moulded orders, more of 14th-century character than 13thcentury. The hood-mould, emphasized by a hollow, is more elaborately moulded than those of the windows and is brought out to square at the ends with broachstops terminating in a kind of mask carving.
The aisle walls are of a deep yellow rubble with window dressings of a lighter tinted ashlar. There is a low chamfered plinth, mostly below ground level. The parapet is ornately treated: it is pierced with a wavy design of trefoils: the south side is divided into six bays by square pinnacles with crocketed weatherworn finials. The string-courses are even more lavishly carved than that of the nave, with similar subjects—heads, beasts, monsters, foliage, &c.; one is a trinity of faces (two in profile), and one carving at the east end appears to be an arm grasping a pot or vase in its hand: many of the feminine head-dresses are of the 14thcentury square type. There is one ball-flower near the west end. There are also six weatherworn gargoyles. On a south-east quoin is a scratched sundial. The internal faces of the walls are of squared rubble.
The roof is of low lean-to type and mostly of the 17th century with stop-chamfered beams and purlin, but against the east wall is one surviving mid-14thcentury truss with a moulded cambered beam having a central boss of foliage and duo-foiled braces against the wall posts. These are supported by human-head corbels, the southern with a 14th-century square draped head-dress. There are other corbels carved as human and beast-heads over the first and second pillars and opposite.
The south porch (about 13½ ft. square) has a 15thcentury entrance of two wave-moulded orders divided by a casement-hollow and a pointed head with a hoodmould. In each side-wall is an original window of a cinquefoiled light under a square moulded label. The walls are of coursed ashlar with a chamfered plinth, low-pitched south gable, and plain parapets having restored crocketed pinnacles at the angles. Flush with the south wall are old east and west buttresses. Above the entrance is a 17th- or 18th-century sundial. The roof of two bays is modern.
The west tower (15 ft. square inside) is a tall one (120 ft. high) of three stages divided by weathercourses, the lower on the west face being cambered to clear the west window. The plinth is in two courses, the upper moulded and the lower splayed. The lowest stage, which is higher than the nave, has large square buttresses against the nave-wall, the southern containing a stair-vice and the northern, presumably solid up to the first floor, made to match. Above these, and also against the west angles, the buttresses are diagonal, reaching nearly to the parapet. The walls and buttresses are of deep yellow and brown small ashlar work, rather detrited and restored in places. The parapet is embattled, with return copings to the merlons: in its string-course are two carvings on each face and above the angles are restored pinnacles (1932) with crocketed finials. The pointed archway to the nave is of three continuous hollow-chamfered orders. There are four steps up from the nave floor. South of the archway, facing the nave, is the four-centred entrance to the vice, also approached by four steps up. The vice is lighted by south loops; it stops at the first floor, and a passage crosses in the thickness of the east wall to the north-east angle where the vice is continued up to the higher floors and roof and is lighted by north and east loops.
The west doorway has moulded jambs and a fourcentred arch in a square head with traceried spandrels and a moulded label. Except for three stones in the jambs and a piece of the label it is modern. The doorway had been altered in 1649 and then had plain spandrels inscribed with the date and names of the churchwardens. These two stones now lie loose in the tower and the back of one of them shows that it was part of the original traceried spandrel that had been cut down and reset inside out.
The great west window is of five cinquefoiled lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head with a hoodmould having stops carved as angels with shields. The moulded jambs and arch, which include a wide casement, are ancient; the mullions and tracery are modern. The tall second stage has trefoiled square-headed lights in the lower part of the south and west walls and there is a doorway in the south end of the east wall on to the nave-roof. The bell-chamber is lighted in each wall by tall twin windows, each of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and tracery in a two-centred head with a hoodmould.
The font in the nave has a fine 14th-century deep octagonal bowl, the sides of which are variously treated with three-light traceried window designs; below these are hollow mouldings carved with two bands of ballflowers and foliated paterae connected by running wavy stems: the moulding below these is in the form of a capital of a pillar. The short stem and splayed base are plain and probably later repairs.
In the north aisle is a 15th-century framed chest (fn. 104) of hutch type, the front board of which is elaborately carved with interlacing and traceried arcading: below this is a band of variously treated roundels and in the middle of it a double-headed eagle and a dragon. The styles at the ends of the front are also carved with panels of differing designs including a double rose. The framed ends and back are plain and the lid later.
In the south aisle is a high tomb of coarse white limestone, 7 ft. 3 in. long, the sides of which have cinquefoiled pointed panels. On it is a badly decayed effigy with hands in prayer and with the feet against a (headless) lion. It is possibly a priest in mass vestments, but it is too defaced for certainty.
A floor slab in the nave at the foot of the steps to the tower-vice has the indent of the greater part of a small brass of a 15th-century priest. On the stone are later initials d.a. By the chancel arch is another slab with an incised long cross, with trefoiled ends, on a moulded base, probably early 16th century. Another had a more complex cross now almost obliterated.
In the chancel floor are grave-stones of the 17th and 18th centuries including:—Sherley 1633 and Jane, wife of Ralph Sherley 1685(–6), Jane, wife of Barnabas Bishop, Patron of this church 1630, Barnabas Bishop 1635, William Bishop 1687 and Francis Bishop 1712, John Bishop 1627 and Dorothy, his wife, 161–, James Wright, 1716.
At the west end of the south aisle is a mural monument to Richard Davies, M.A., of Exeter College, Oxford, died 19 January 1639(–40) in his 36th year. It is of alabaster and dark grey marble with Corinthian columns supporting an entablature. Beneath it is a high tomb of alabaster with black marble panels and top slab inscribed with his initials R.D. and an English verse in eight lines.
There are a few loose carved stones, besides the 17th-century door-head already mentioned. In the south aisle is a 26-in. length of a 9-in. shaft of circular section with convex flutings: the lower half of it is carved in relief on four faces with (1) a sow with five sucking pigs, (2) another animal (dog?), (3) a plant with flowers, and (4) a peculiar device difficult to identify. It is not known to what it belonged.
The communion plate includes a cup with paten cover of 1659, and a larger paten given in 1784. There are also five pewter alms plates dated 1708. (fn. 105)
There are six bells. (fn. 106) The second is of the late 15th century with the stamp of Henry Jordan of London and inscription: 'In multis annis resonet campana Johannis.' The tenor was also of the 15th century, by John Bird of London with his stamps and the inscription: 'Gaude Quod Post Ip[su]m Scandis Et Est Honor Tibi Grandis In Celi Palacio.' It was the second largest medieval bell in England in 1877 when, after long being cracked, it was recast by Blews of Birmingham, who faithfully reproduced the old inscription. The treble is by Richard Purdy, 1624. The 4th bell, after being recast by Richard Keene in 1668, with the inscription 'ime not the bell i was, but quite another, ime nowe as rite as merry george my brother', was again recast in 1900. The 5th was also recast by Richard Keene, in 1671, and is inscribed: 'ile crack no more now ring your fill merry george i was and will be still.'
Roger, Earl of Warwick, in the reign of Henry I gave the church of Brailes to the priory of Kenilworth. (fn. 107) About the end of the 12th century it was appropriated to the priory and a vicarage was ordained. (fn. 108) This was subsequently considered by the Bishop of Worcester to be excessive, and 2 messuages and 1 virgate of land were transferred from the vicarage to the rectory. (fn. 109) In 1279 the Prior of Kenilworth held 4 virgates in Brailes as attached to the church, (fn. 110) and in 1291 the rectory was worth £13 13s. 4d. and the vicarage £12. (fn. 111) By 1535 the canons of Kenilworth, now an abbey, were receiving £20 from the farm of the rectory and 15s. from rents of land (fn. 112) in the parish, and the vicarage was worth £20. (fn. 113) After the Dissolution the Crown bestowed the advowson and rectory on Charles, Duke of Suffolk, in 1539. (fn. 114) It reverted to the Crown and was included by Queen Mary in a grant of advowsons made to the Bishop of Worcester on 14 November 1558, (fn. 115) three days before her death. By 1584 the advowson had come to John Bishop, (fn. 116) who died in 1601 at the age of 92; (fn. 117) his eldest son was William Bishop, Bishop of Chalcedon, (fn. 118) and the family were mainly Roman Catholics, (fn. 119) so that although the advowson remained in their hands until at least the death of Francis Bishop in 1712, (fn. 120) the actual presentations were usually made by other persons. (fn. 121) In 1721 the advowson was sold to John Sanders of Honiley, (fn. 122) who presented in the following year, (fn. 123) as did John Sanders junior in 1724 and 1729. (fn. 124) He was apparently still patron in 1745, (fn. 125) but in 1760 James Bayley presented. (fn. 126) After this the advowson changed hands many times, until about 1920, when it was conveyed to the Dean and Chapter of Coventry, the present patrons.
A gild in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary was established by Richard, Earl of Warwick, 'the kingmaker', in connexion with the church of Brailes. At the time of its dissolution in 1548 it maintained two priests, of whom one was organist and the other, John Pittes, schoolmaster of the free school, with a stipend of £8 1s. 8d. (fn. 130) which had been granted to him in 1537 by the two wardens and the brethren of the gild. (fn. 131) Its lands, which were partly in Warwickshire and partly in Oxfordshire, were granted away piecemeal, (fn. 132) but some of them were acquired by Barnaby Bishop and applied to the re-endowment of the school. (fn. 133)
In 1322 Thomas de Pakinton founded a chantry of two priests in the chapel of Chelmscote, and in 1348 the same Thomas, then parson of Mapledurham (Oxon.), settling property in Over Brailes and 'the fee called Segrave's fee' on his nephew Nicholas Laumprey, charged it with the maintenance of these two priests and of two others in the church of Brailes. (fn. 134) No royal licence in mortmain on either occasion can be traced, but the advowson of the free chapel of Chelmscote became attached to the manor (see above), and this is presumably the origin of the perpetual chantry in the church of Brailes to which Humphrey Hardinge was appointed in 1521, (fn. 135) and of which land in Stourton was granted in 1553 to Thomas Reve and George Cotton (fn. 136) and other lands in Chelmscote and Brailes were given to the re-established hospital of the Savoy in 1556. (fn. 137)
There was a chapel in Winderton, which with its buildings and lands was granted in 1549 to John Nethermille and John Milwarde, (fn. 138) but of its history nothing is known.
The Ecclesiastical Charity. The endowment of this charity, the origin of which is unknown, consists of a yearly sum of £20 applied towards the maintenance and repair of the fabric of the parish church.
William Prestige by will dated 29 July 1732 gave to Trustees £500 to be laid out in land, the rent and profits to be applied for the benefit of the poor of Brailes. The endowment now consists of 6 acres or thereabouts of land let in allotments, one acre of orchard land, and £196 4s. 8d. 3 per cent. Savings Bonds 1960–70, the whole producing an annual income of about £25 which is applied in accordance with the trusts. By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 24 June 1941 a body of Trustees was appointed to administer the charity.
Mark Walker by will proved 14 February 1911 gave to the Trustees of the Wesleyan Chapel at Brailes £50, the income to be applied for the benefit of the chapel. The testator also bequeathed to the Trustees of the Primitive Methodist Chapel at Brailes £50, the income to be applied for the benefit of the chapel.
Willington's Dole. William Willington by will dated 27 March 1555 charged certain lands at Brailes and Chelmscote with an annual payment of £1 13s. 4d. to the poor of the parish of Brailes. An annual sum of £2 is now received by the churchwardens arising out of Harbury Ley's Farm, Tysoe, and is distributed to the poor of the parish.
William Baldwin by will proved 3 February 1864 bequeathed £100, the income to be applied by the churchwardens in keeping his tomb in good and permanent repair and, subject thereto, to poor and respectably conducted widows of the parish.
James Cooper by will dated 25 April 1678 gave £100, the interest to be applied once in every two years to the distribution of coats to the poorest men of Brailes; and a further gift of £50 to the minister and churchwardens, the interest to be applied to the distribution of beef for the poor at Christmas. The two gifts were laid out in 1684 in the purchase of land called the Poor's Close containing 4 acres. The land is now let in allotments and the rents applied for the benefit of the poor generally.
Fuel Land. Upon the inclosure of the common field land of this parish in 1786 an allotment containing 4 acres was awarded to the minister, churchwardens, and overseers of the poor for fuel to the poor of Upper Brailes in lieu of their right to cut furze, &c., and also another allotment containing 4 acres was set out to the same persons for the poor of Lower Brailes. The land now forming the endowment of the charity is let and the rents applied to the benefit of the poor of the parish.
Richard Badger's Charity. Under the will of Richard Badger the parish of Brailes with Winderton receives two-fifths of the annual dividends arising from the stocks representing £2,500, to the intent that out of such two-fifths the annual sum of £5 may be for ever applied towards the cost of keeping the Chapel of Ease of the church at Winderton in proper repair and the remainder of such two-fifths for ever applied towards the cost of keeping the church of the parish of Brailes in proper repair and maintaining divine service therein according to the order and principles of the Church of England, and to pay the remaining three-fifths of the said annual income to the vicar and churchwardens and overseers of the poor for the benefit of the deserving poor resident in Brailes and Winderton. The church share now consists of an annual sum of £35 13s. 5d. and the Poor's share £53 10s. 3d. annually.