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 is divided on the west from Hampton Lucy by the River Avon, and on the south from Charlecote by the Thelsford Brook. The eastern boundary is formed by the road leading north from Newbold Pacey, and the northern by another road which connects this with the Warwick-Kineton road in the west of the parish. Between this last-named road and the Avon stands the church, to the north of which is the small village, containing four or five thatched cottages with remains of 17th-century timber-framing.
The Manor House, about a furlong west of the church, is an approximately square building facing east. Externally it is mostly of 18th-century red brickwork but internally the back part retains the remains of a 15th-century timber-framed hall running north and south and having east and west narrow aisles. A rooftruss shows a tie-beam with the west half of a fourcentred pointed arch below it, the east half having been removed for head room at the top of a later stair. The space above the tie-beam is ceiled so that the upper construction cannot be seen. The truss was probably the south end of a two-bay hall. The north and south sides on the first floor show the skeleton framing that divided the hall from its aisles, which were about 3½ ft. wide. Both sides have scissors trusses and curved braces. A middle tie-beam is also supported by curved braces. The bay south of the arched truss was probably the solar wing. No distinctive roof construction is visible above it but the ceiling of the lower story (now a cellar or store) retains moulded cross-beams of the 15th century and stop-chamfered wide flat joists. The back wall of this bay shows a little original timberframing. The front part of the house although now modernized was probably part of the late-16th-century enlargement and alteration when a 'central' chimneystack of L-shaped plan was built in the solar wing. This has a Tudor stone fire-place on the first floor and carries five diagonal shafts of thin bricks. A plain old oak staircase next to the chimney-stack winds round a central newel. The other fire-places, &c., are modern.
In the grounds east of the house is a tall and narrow octagonal pigeon-house. The lower story is of early16th-century stonework with moulded rectangular lights in three sides and a doorway, now blocked, in the north side. This part was evidently not intended for pigeons; it has no nests and the floor above is supported by ancient posts. The upper and greater part is of midlate-17th-century brickwork with a west doorway and brick rests. The roof is tiled and has a central lantern.
WASPERTON was part of Earl Leofric's original endowment of the Priory of Coventry, (fn. 1) and figures among the estates of that church in the Domesday Survey, being rated at 5 hides. (fn. 2) At the end of the 12th century the convent of Coventry made over the vill of Wasperton to Walter son of Thurstan of Charlecote, to whom it was confirmed by King John in 1203. (fn. 3) Walter's grandson William de Lucy held ¾ knight's fee here of the Prior of Coventry in 1242, (fn. 4) but soon after this the priory seems to have recovered possession, as in 1257 Wasperton was among the demesnes in which they received a grant of free warren, (fn. 5) and in 1279 the prior was lord of the manor, where he had 2 carucates in demesne and 14 virgates held by villeins. (fn. 6) In 1291 the priory's estate was valued at £9 6s. 4d., (fn. 7) and in 1535 it produced just over £9, with an additional 15s. for fishing rights. (fn. 8) At the Dissolution it was granted, in 1540, to William Whorwood, SolicitorGeneral, and William Walter and Katherine his wife, (fn. 9) and Whorwood promptly assigned his rights in the manor to Walter. (fn. 10) His grandson Sir William Walter died in 1632, leaving two daughters, Elizabeth wife of Sir John Sackville, and Katherine who shortly afterwards married Knighton Ferrers. (fn. 11) Elizabeth in 1634 conveyed her share to her sister, (fn. 12) who in 1642 made a settlement of the manor with her second husband Sir Simon Fanshawe. (fn. 13) By Sir Simon it was sold, about 1680, to Sir Thomas Rawlinson, (fn. 14) from whom it descended to Dr. Richard Rawlinson, F.R.S., F.S.A., the somewhat eccentric benefactor of the Bodleian Library. (fn. 15) He was lord of the manor from 1726 to his death in 1755, (fn. 16) when he bequeathed it to St. John's College, Oxford, (fn. 17) in whose hands it remains.
Land in HEATHCOTE was included in the grant by Coventry Priory to Walter de Charlecote, and other land there was granted in 1196 by William son of Godwin to Roger de Cherlecote, (fn. 18) who when he conveyed 3½ hides in Wasperton to the Prior of Coventry in 1229 expressly excepted 1 carucate in Heathcote. (fn. 19) An estate here had before this been given to the Friary of Thelsford, as in 1221 Geoffrey, Prior of that house, leased 20 acres here to Henry son of Roger. (fn. 20) The Priory of Coventry in 1291 received 10s. yearly as composition for the tithe of corn in Heathcote; (fn. 21) and this was still paid in 1535, (fn. 22) at which date Thelsford had 8s. rents in Wasperton. (fn. 23) After the Dissolution, in 1544, pasture in Heathcote, late of the Friary of Thelsford, was granted to Thomas Arderne and William Walter, (fn. 24) and the so-called manor of Heathcote then descended with Wasperton, (fn. 25) being settled in 1630 on Sir William Walter's elder daughter Elizabeth when she married Sir John Sackville. (fn. 26) It was sold by Sir Simon Fanshawe to Daniel Rawlinson (father of Sir Thomas) in 1659. (fn. 27)
In 1086 there was at Wasperton a mill which yielded 20s. and 4 loads of salt and 1,000 eels yearly; (fn. 28) and in 1291 the Priory of Coventry had here two mills worth £1. (fn. 29) There does not, however, appear to be any later reference to mills.
The parish church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST was entirely rebuilt (fn. 30) in the 14th-century style by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1843 and is a small building consisting of a chancel, nave with a west bell-cote, south aisle, and north porch. The walls are of ashlar stonework. The nave arcade is of three bays.
The communion rails are of late-17th- or early-18thcentury gilded and painted wrought iron-work with foliated terminal winged figures in the gates and, in the side bays, two applied crowns with eagle-head crests.
The pulpit is modern but incorporates six early18th-century carved panels of foreign workmanship. They include the Baptism, the temptation of Adam and Eve, the sacrifice of Isaac, an angel receiving a bearded man, and a figure of Charity with a woman and child, all with cherubs' heads above and below the subjects. The sixth (western) panel has a diaper pattern.
Of the two bells one is by Henry Bagley, 1638; the other is dated 1817. (fn. 31)
The communion plate includes an Elizabethan cup, dated 1571, of the usual type of that period, with paten cover; a flagon of 1732; and an alms dish of 1754, given to the church in 1842. (fn. 32)
The church was definitely stated to be a chapel of Hampton Lucy in 1279, (fn. 33) and the patronage of the vicarage has continued to the present day in the hands of the rector of Hampton. (fn. 34) In 1535 the vicar of the 'parish church' of Wasperton had £5 a year, of which £4 was paid by the rector of Hampton. (fn. 35)
The Rev. George Hammond by will dated 3 Feb. 1755 gave to the rector and churchwardens of Hampton Lucy, to the vicar of Alveston, and to the vicar of Wasperton £400, the interest to be distributed to eight poor men or women of Hampton Lucy and to four poor men or women of Alveston and Wasperton who should frequent the communion of the Church of England at least four times a year. The share of the charity applicable to Wasperton is now represented by £4 14s. 8d., annually in dividends.
Mrs. Alice Hammond, widow of George Hammond, by her will dated 2 Jan. 1778 gave to the vicar and churchwardens of Wasperton a sum of £100, the income to be given to the poor of the parish. The endowment now produces an annual income of £4 12s.