A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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The parish, which adjoins Oxfordshire on the east and south, is hilly, most of the land lying between 400 ft. in the north and 600 ft. in the south. The soil is rich corn-land, but much of it is pasture. There are several small streams, of which one forms the parish boundary for some distance on the east and north; and there are many trees in the hedgerows, as well as one or two shaws in the south. The road from Banbury to Warwick runs through the parish from south to north and then north-west, sending off a branch to the hamlet of Arlescote, which lies in the west of the parish on the slopes of Edge Hill where it is crowned by Nadbury Camp in Ratley (q.v.).
The church stands directly on the east side of the main road from Banbury to Warwick at the top of a steep gradient and the village lies mostly to the northeast of it at a lower level. It is one of the few in this district that has a spacious village green (almost rectangular), with the houses on three sides of it and with a slope upwards to the south. Most of the buildings are of local stone with thatched or stone-tiled roofs. One of the houses at the south-east angle, facing west, has 17th-century windows with mullions and labels and an arched and square-headed doorway also with a label. Grove Farm, in a side turning just off the south-east of the green, is mainly an 18th-century ashlar stone house with a central front door and plain square-headed windows, but is of earlier origin, having mullioned windows surviving in the basement walls, moulded ceiling-beams, and a staircase with turned balusters and newels of the 17th century.
The Manor House, of two stories and attics, faces the green at its higher south end and is built of coursed rough ashlar. It dates from the second half of the 16th century and is of half-H-shaped plan: the gabled wings project to the south and have gables also on the north front, which is all in one plane. They have moulded copings and tall pinnacles at the apexes. The west side of the west wing has a tall flush dormer (over the staircase) with a similar gable. A similar dormer on the east side of the house (to the east staircase) became dilapidated and was taken down a few years ago. All the windows have moulded mullions and labels; some have been restored. The north and south doorways have moulded jambs with base-stops and four-centred arches in square heads with labels and with plain shields carved in the spandrels. They open into a crosspassage west of the middle hall, which is entered from it by another arched doorway. The hall has a moulded north fire-place with four-centred arch, set in a chimney-stack that projects on the north front and has a plain shaft. There are similar fire-places in the southeast wing and in the upper story. The kitchen in the south-west wing has a plain wide fire-place. The hall has fine moulded ceiling-beams and exposed joists. Both east and west staircases wind round a central framed square newel in which are cupboards, &c., and the eastern retains a few pierced flat-shaped balusters against the wall of the lowest flight. The window masonry throughout has a large number of masons' marks, a W, an R, and another. The roofs have tall queen-posts, between which are the attic-chambers. They are mostly covered with stone tiles.
In 1086 the Count of Meulan held 13 hides in WARMINGTON (which probably included Shotteswell) which Azor had formerly held. (fn. 1) A knight, unnamed, held 2½ hides of the count. (fn. 2) Another 5 hides in ARLESCOTE, (fn. 3) which Boui had held before the Conquest, were held in 1086 of the count by the Norman Abbey of Préaux, to whom they had been given by the count's father Roger de Beaumont, and confirmed by William the Conqueror c. 1080. (fn. 4) When the count's brother Henry de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick, succeeded to his estates he evidently gave to the abbey the whole vill of Warmington, 'excepting the berewicks', as this gift was confirmed by his grandson Earl Waleran. (fn. 5) Roger, Earl of Warwick (1123–53), confirmed to the monks the grant by Ralf de St. Sanson of 1 hide and 1 virgate in Warmington, with tithes there and in Arlescote and Shotteswell, all of which had been given to his father Richard by Ralf son of Helebold. (fn. 6) The latter may have been the unnamed knight who held of the count in 1086, and Ralf's father Richard may be identified with the Richard who, as a brother of the convent of St. Mary of Warwick, was allowed to grant tithes in Warmington and its hamlets to Préaux c. 1130. (fn. 7)
The Abbey of Préaux established a cell at Warmington, (fn. 8) the prior of which was holding Arlescote as half a knight's fee of Edmund, brother of Edward I, as of the earldom of Leicester in 1299. (fn. 9) During the 14th century, however, the 'priory' seems to have lapsed, and the manor of Warmington, which was worth about £30 in 1380, was under the control of the Prior of Toft Monks (Norfolk), the abbey's representative in England. (fn. 10) With other possessions of alien houses it was constantly being seized into the king's hands during the war with France, and in 1390 Lewis Clifford and his son Lewis obtained a grant of the English estates of Préaux for their lives. (fn. 11) . (fn. 12) Sir Lewis in 1403 transferred his interest to Sir Thomas Erpingham, who in turn made it over to the Carthusian Priory of Witham in Somerset. (fn. 13) After the death of Sir Thomas the priory received further confirmations of the manors from Henry VI (fn. 14) and Edward IV. (fn. 15) The manor of Warmington, which in 1291 had produced £13 17s. 8d. yearly, (fn. 16) in 1535 was worth £25 10s. 2d. clear. (fn. 17) After the Dissolution the priory's tenements in Arlescote were granted in 1542 to Richard Andrews and Leonard Chamberlain, (fn. 18) who promptly alienated them to John Lecke of Astrop (Northants) and Edward his son. (fn. 19) In 1548 Edward Lecke had licence to grant them to John Croker, (fn. 20) of Hook Norton (Oxon.), who in 1551 settled the manor of Warmington (which he had presumably acquired from William and Francis Sheldon, grantees in 1544) (fn. 21) and lands in Arlescote on himself for life, with remainder to his son Gerard. (fn. 22) By Gerard the manors of Warmington and Arlescote were sold in 1572 to Richard and Thomas Cupper. (fn. 23) Richard died in or before 1605, when his son Henry Cupper had livery of the manors. (fn. 24) In 1622 Henry Cooper (as the name had now become) conveyed the manor of Warmington to his second son Thomas Cooper, (fn. 25) who, with Mary Cooper, widow, was dealing with it in 1628. (fn. 26) Henry Cooper had died seised of the manor in 1626, (fn. 27) and there seems to have been a division of the manor, as his eldest son Richard in 1633 had livery of one-third of the manor of Warmington. (fn. 28) Presumably Thomas's share passed to Mannasseh Cooper, who died in 1640 seised of Arlescote manor and other lands in Warmington, leaving a son Richard. (fn. 29) Meanwhile, in 1637, one Simon Davis had livery of the manor of Warmington, late of his father Richard. (fn. 30) Simon Davis was dealing with the manor in 1659, (fn. 31) as were Thomas Knight and Alice his wife (probably Simon's daughter) in 1671. (fn. 32) In 1702 the same Thomas and Alice with Richard Davis Knight, (fn. 33) and in 1736 the latter with Mary his wife and John Knight, (fn. 34) dealt with the manor. It is next found in 1743 in the hands of William Bumpstead, (fn. 35) who with his wife Mary dealt with it in 1752. (fn. 36) In 1758 William Bumpstead (no doubt his son), (fn. 37) John Boyd and Mary his wife (probably widow of the elder William), and Francis Kemp and Martha conveyed the manor to Francis Child. (fn. 38) Robert Child, the wealthy banker, held it in 1764 (fn. 39) and was succeeded by his daughter Sarah, who in 1787 with her husband John, Earl of Westmorland, was dealing with the manor. (fn. 40) Their daughter Sarah Sophia married George, Earl of Jersey, who was lord of the manor from about 1806 until his death in 1859. (fn. 41) Mrs. Bennett was lady in 1889, (fn. 42) and Mr. H. F. Bennett is named as lord of the manor in 1900, (fn. 43) and in 1924, (fn. 44) but the manorial rights appear to have lapsed.
The nave dates from the 12th century; no detail is left to indicate its original date but it was of the proportion of two squares, common in the early 12th century. A north aisle was added first, about the middle of the 12th century, with an arcade of three bays; a south aisle followed, near the end of the 12th century, also with a three-bay arcade. After about a century a considerable enlargement was begun and continued over a period of half a century or more; the nave was lengthened eastwards about 10 ft. and a new chancel built. The extra length of the side walls added to the nave perhaps remained unpierced at first.
Although there is a general sameness in the Hornton stone ashlar walling throughout, all the various parts—chancel, chapel, aisles, and tower—have different plinths, &c., and there is a great variation in the elevations and details of the windows, showing constant changes from the 14th century, when there was much activity, onwards, probably because of decay and need for repair caused by the church's exposed position on the brow of a hill.
The south aisle was widened to its present limits about 1290, on the evidence of the wide splays and other details of its windows; but an early-13th-century doorway was re-used. It is possible that the east part of the north aisle followed soon afterwards, c. 1300, as a kind of transeptal chapel, on the evidence of its east window, which differs from the other aisle windows. From c. 1330–40 much was done. The chancel arch was widened, new bays to match were inserted in the east lengths of the nave walls, making both arcades now of four bays, (fn. 47) the widening of the whole of the north aisle was completed with the addition of the north porch. The 12th-century north arcade, which seems to have lost its inner order, was probably rebuilt. There is a curious distortion about both aisles, perhaps only explained by the widenings being made in more than one period; the north aisle tapers from west to east and the south aisle tapers from east to west, about a foot each, as compared with the lines of the arcades. The south porch was probably added about 1330.
About 1340 came also the addition of the chapel with the priest's chamber above it. The north wall of the chancel, probably of the 13th century and thinner than any of the other walls, was kept to form the south wall of the chapel, but the other walls were made unusually thick, as though it was at first intended to raise a higher superstructure than was actually carried out, perhaps even a tower. If such was the intention it was quickly abandoned and the west tower was begun about 1340–5 and carried up to some two-thirds of its present height. There was not much room above the road-side and it had to encroach 2 or 3 ft. into the west end of the nave. The top stage was added or completed in the 15th century.
With the addition of the chapel, alterations were made to the chancel windows, but its south wall had to be rebuilt in the 15th century, when new and larger windows were inserted and the piscina and sedilia constructed.
There have been many repairs and renovations, notably in 1867 to the chancel and 1871 for the rest of the church, and others since then. The roofs have been entirely renewed, though probably more or less of the original forms of the 14th or 15th centuries.
The chancel (about 30½ ft. by 16½ ft.) has an east window of four trefoiled pointed lights and modern tracery of 14th-century character in a two-centred head with an external hood-mould having head-stops. The jambs and arch, of two moulded orders, and the hood-mould are early-14th-century. In the north wall is a 14th-century doorway into the chapel with jambs and ogee head of three moulded orders and a hoodmould with head-stops, the eastern a cowled man's, the western a woman's. It contains an ancient oak door, with stout diagonal framing at the back and hung with plain strap-hinges. At the west end of the wall are two windows close together; the eastern, of c. 1340, of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and cusped piercings in a square head with an external label having decayed head-stops. It has a shouldered internal lintel which is carved with grotesque faces. The western is a narrower and earlier 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil, &c., in a square head with an external label.
The window at the west end of the south wall is similar. The other two are 15th-century insertions, each of two wide cinquefoiled three-centred lights under a square head with head-stops, one a cowled human head, the other beast-heads. The jambs and lintel of two sunk-chamfered orders are old, the rest restored. The rear lintel is also sunk-chamfered and is supported in the middle by a shaped stone bracket from the mullion.
Below the south-east window is a 15th-century piscina with small side pilasters that have embattled heads, and a trefoiled ogee head enriched with crockets. The sill, which projects partly as a moulded corbel, has a round basin. West of it are three sedilia of the same character with cinquefoiled ogee heads also crocketed and with finials. At the springing level are carved human-head corbels: the cusp-points are variously carved, an acorn, a snake's head, a skull, and foliage. The two outer are surmounted by crocketed and finialled gables and all are flanked and divided by pilasters with embattled heads and crocketed pinnacles.
The east wall is built of yellow-grey ashlar with a projecting splayed plinth; the gable-head has been rebuilt. At the south-east angle is a pair of square buttresses of two stages, probably later additions, as the plinth is not carried round them. Another at the former north-east angle has been restored. The south wall is of yellow ashlar but has a moulded plinth of the 15th century. The eaves have a hollow-moulded course with which the uprights of the 15th-century window-labels are mitred.
The north chapel (about 12 ft. east to west by 17 ft. deep) is now used as the vestry, and dates from c. 1340. In its south wall, the thin north wall of the chancel, is a straight joint 3¼ ft. from the east wall probably marking the east jamb of a former 13th-century window, and below it is the remnant of an early stringcourse that is chamfered on its upper edge. The east wall is 3 ft. 10 in. thick and the north wall 4 ft. 6 in. In the middle of each is a rectangular one-light window with moulded jambs and head of two orders and an external label; the internal reveals are half splayed and part squared at the inner edges and have a flat stone lintel. The lights were probably cusped originally. In the west wall is a filled-in square-headed fire-place, perhaps original. Partly in the recess of the east window and partly projecting is an ancient thick stone altarslab showing four of the original five crosses cut in the top. It has a hollow-chamfered lower edge and is supported by moulded stone corbels. South of it in the east wall is a piscina with a trefoiled ogee-head and hood-mould and a quatrefoil basin.
The stair-vice that leads up to the story above is in the south-west angle, its doorway being splayed westwards to avoid the doorway to the chancel. In it is an ancient oak door with one-way diagonal framing on the back. The turret projects externally to the west in the angle with the chancel wall; it is square in the lower part but higher is broadened northwards with a splay that is corbelled out below in three courses, the lowest corbel having a trefoiled ogee or blind arch cut in it. The top is tabled back up to the eaves of the chapel west wall. A moulded string-course passes round the projection and there is another half-way up the tabling. The doorway at the top of the spiral stair leading into the upper chamber has an ancient oak door hung with three strap-hinges.
The upper priest's chamber has an east window of two plain square-headed lights, probably altered. In the north wall is a rectangular window that was of two lights but has lost its mullion. Outside it has a false pointed head of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and leaf tracery, all of it blank, and a hood-mould with human-head stops, one cowled. Apparently this treatment was purely for decorative purposes, like the square-headed windows at Shotteswell and elsewhere. The south wall is pierced by a watching-hole into the chancel, which is fitted with an iron grill and oak shutter: it has been reduced from a larger opening that had an ogee head and hood-mould. There is a square-headed fire-place in the west wall and in the splayed north-west angle is the entrance to a garderobe or latrine, which is lighted by a north loop.
The walls are of yellow ashlar and have a plinth of two courses, the upper moulded, a moulded stringcourse at first-floor level, and moulded eaves-courses at the sides. The north wall is gabled and has a parapet with string-course and coping. At the angles are diagonal buttresses of two stages; the lower stage is 2½ ft. broad up to the first-floor level, above this the upper stage is reduced to about half the breadth. They support square diagonal pinnacles with restored crocketed finials. The west wall is unpierced but above it is a plain square chimney-shaft with an open-side hood on top. Internally the walls are faced with whitish-brown ashlar. The gabled roof is modern and of two bays.
The nave (about 41½ ft. by 16½ ft.) has north and south arcades of four bays. The easternmost bay on each side, with the first pillar, is of the same detail and date as the chancel arch. They vary in span, the north being about 9 ft. and the south about 10 ft., and in both cases the span is less than those of the older bays. Those on the north side are of 11–12 ft. span and date from the middle of the 12th century. The pillars are circular, the west respond a half-circle, with scalloped capitals, 6 in. high and square in the deep-browed upper part and with a 4½ in. grooved and hollowchamfered abacus. The bases are chamfered and stand on square sub-bases. The arches are pointed and of one square order with a plain square hood-mould, The voussoirs are small. The middle parts of the soffits are plastered between the flush inner ends of the voussoirs, suggesting a former inner order, abolished perhaps in a rebuilding of the heads.
The same three bays of the south side are of 11 ft. span and of late-12th-century date. The round pillars are rather more slender than the northern, and the capitals are taller, 12 in. high, with long and shallow scallops, and have 4 in. abaci like the northern. The bases are taller and moulded in forms approaching those of the 13th century, on chamfered square sub-bases.
High above the 14th-century south-east respond is a 15th-century four-centred doorway to the former rood-loft. The stair-vice leading up to it is entered by a four-centred doorway in the east wall of the south aisle.
The north aisle (11½ ft. wide at the east end and 12½ ft. at the west) has an uncommon east window of c. 1300. It is of three plain-pointed rather narrow lights; above the middle light, which has a shorter pointed head than the others, is a circle enclosing a pierced five-pointed star, all in a two-centred head with an external hood-mould having defaced head-stops, and with a chamfered rear-arch.
Set fairly close together at the east end of the north wall are two tall windows of c. 1340, each of two trefoiled round-headed lights and foiled leaf-tracery below a segmental-pointed head with an ogee apex, the tracery coming well below the arch. The jambs are of two orders, the outer sunk-chamfered. The lights are wider and the splays of ashlar are more acute than those of the east window.
The third window near the west end is narrower and shorter and of two plain-pointed lights and an uncusped spandrel in a two-centred head: it is of much the same date as the east window. The jambs and head are of two hollow-chamfered orders and the fairly obtuse plastered splays have old angle-dressings. The segmental-pointed rear-arch is chamfered.
The three-light window in the west wall has jambs and splays like those of the north-west but its head has been altered; it is now of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights below a four-centred arch. The chamfered reararch is elliptical.
The walls are yellow ashlar with a chamfered plinth and parapets with moulded string-courses and copings that are continued over the east and west gables. Below the sills of the two north-east windows is a plain stringcourse. At the east angle is a pair of shallow square buttresses and a diagonal buttress at the west, all ancient. White ashlar facing is exposed inside between the two north-east windows only, the remainder being plastered. The gabled roof of trussed-rafter type is modern and covered with tiles.
The south aisle (13 ft. wide at the east end and 12 ft. at the west) has an east window of three plain-pointed lights, and three plain circles in plate tracery form, in a two-centred head with an external hood-mould having mask stops. The yellow stone jambs and head of two chamfered orders and the wide ashlar splays are probably of the late 13th century; the grey stone mullions and tracery are apparently old restorations but are probably reproductions of the original forms.
There are two south windows: the eastern is of two wide cinquefoiled elliptical-headed lights under a square main head with an external label with return stops. The jambs are of two moulded orders, the inner (and the mullion) with small roll-moulds, probably of the 13th century re-used when the window was refashioned in the 15th century. The wide splays are of rubble-work and there is a chamfered segmental reararch. The western is a narrower opening of two trefoiled-pointed lights, with the early form of soffit cusping, and early-14th-century tracery in a twocentred head: the jambs are of two chamfered orders and the wide splays are plastered, with ashlar dressings: the chamfered rear-arch is segmental pointed.
The reset south doorway has jambs and pointed head of two moulded orders with filleted rolls and undercut hollows of the early 13th century, divided by a three-quarter hollow more typical of a later period, and all are stopped on a single splayed base. The hoodmould has defaced shield-shaped head-stops. There are four steps down into the church through this doorway.
The window in the west wall is like that in the east but the three lights are trefoiled and the three circles in the two-centred head are quatrefoiled: the head is all restored work. The jambs are ancient and precisely like those of the square-headed south window, and the wide splays are of rubble-work.
The walls are of yellow fine-jointed ashlar and have plinths of two splayed courses, the upper projecting like that of the east chancel-wall, and plain parapets with restored copings. At the angles are old and rather shallow diagonal buttresses. There are three scratched sundials on the south wall, one, a complete circle, being on a west jambstone of the south-east window.
The south porch is built of ashlar like that of the aisle but the courses do not tally and it has a different plinth, a plain hollow-chamfer. The gabled south wall has a parapet with a restored coping. The pointed entrance is of two orders, the inner ovolo-moulded, the outer hollow-chamfered, and has a hood-mould of 13thcentury form. There are side benches. The roof is modern but on the wall of the aisle are cemented lines marking the position of an earlier high-pitched roof at a lower level than the present one.
The north porch is of shallower projection. It has a gabled front with diagonal buttresses and coped parapet and a pointed entrance with jambs and head of two chamfered orders, the inner hollow, and a hood-mould with head-stops.
The west tower (about 9½ ft. square) is of three stages divided by projecting splayed string-courses: it has a high plinth, with a moulded upper member and chamfered lower course, and a plain parapet. The walls are of yellow ashlar, that of the two upper stages being of rather rougher facing and in smaller courses than the lowest stage. At the west angles are diagonal buttresses reaching to the top of the second stage. There are no east buttresses but in the angle of the north wall with the end of the nave is a shallow buttress against the nave-wall. In the south-west angle, but not projecting, is a stair-vice with a pointed doorway in a splay, and lighted by a west loop. The archway to the nave has a two-centred head of two chamfered orders, the inner dying on the reveals, the outer mitring with the single chamfered order of the responds. It has large voussoirs. The wall on either side of the archway is of squared rough-tooled ashlar.
The 14th-century west doorway has jambs and pointed head of two wave-moulded orders divided by a three-quarter hollow, and a hood-mould with return stops. The head of the tall and narrow 14th-century west window is carried up into the second stage, its hood-mould springing from the string-course. It is of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head: the jambs are of two chamfered orders.
The bell-chamber has 15th-century windows, each of two lights with depressed trefoiled ogee heads and uncusped tracery in which the mullion line is continued up to the apex of the two-centred head. The jambs are of two chamfered orders and there is no hood-mould.
The church was valued at £8 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 48) and at £16 3s. 10d., in addition to a pension of 13s. 4d. payable to Witham Priory, in 1535. (fn. 49) The advowson passed with the manor until 1602, when the patron was Richard Cooper. (fn. 50) In 1628 William Hall and Edward Wotton, by concession of — Hill, the patron, presented Richard Wotton, (fn. 51) who at the time of his wife's death in 1637 was 'rector and patron, of the church'. (fn. 52) In 1681 and 1694 presentations were made by Thomas Farrer, and from 1726 till his death in 1764 the patronage was held by his son Thomas Farrer. (fn. 53) His widow Alice held it in 1766, (fn. 54) but by 1773 it had been divided between their two daughters, Mary wife of John Adams, and Elizabeth Farrer (1782) who afterwards married Hamlyn Harris. (fn. 55) In 1802 Henry Bagshaw Harrison was patron and rector. (fn. 56) He died in 1830, and by 1850 the advowson had been acquired by Hulme's Trustees, (fn. 57) in whose hands it has continued, so that they now present on two out of three turns to the combined living of Warmington and Shotteswell, which was annexed to it in 1927.
Robert Gardner by will proved 30 April 1727 charged each of three several pieces of land in the parish with an annual payment of 2s. to be expended in bread and distributed to the poor of the parish. It is known that these annuities were distributed according to the directions in the will until the year 1892 and it is assumed that they have so continued.