A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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Acreage: 2,112, and Stourton 971.
Population: 1911, 343; 1921, 315; 1931, 261.
The parish is divided from Oxfordshire on the east by Traintors Ford Lane. On the north it is bounded by the River Stour as far west as the hamlet of Stourton, originally part of this parish but annexed to Cherington in 1910. The ground rises from north to south, being about 300 ft. along the Stour, 440 ft. at the village, and then rising steeply to 660 ft. at the south-west and to nearly 800 ft. at the south-east edge of the parish. The country is pleasant, being well provided with trees, particularly round the village and at Ascott, ½ mile east of it, the largest block of woodland being Whichford Wood in the south-west corner of the parish.
The buildings in the village are mostly of local stone with thatched roofs. One on the east side of the street has 17th-century mullioned windows, three gabled stone dormers, and stone chimney-shafts above the stone-tiled roof. At Ascott are similar buildings and a thatched barn with pigeon holes in the gable. Several houses in Stourton bear dates—1707, 1723, 1744, and 1761, and one slightly earlier has a tablet with the initials i.s. and date 1695. Opposite this last is the old manor-house, now called 'Old Anson's', a 17th-century stone-built house of two stories and attics; a cross-wing at the north end has three large gabled dormers.
Among the estates of Gilbert de Gand listed in the Domesday Survey of Northamptonshire is 'Wicford'. This is probably to be identified with Whichford, as the church of Whichford was given to Bridlington Priory, (fn. 1) founded by Gilbert's son Walter de Gand, by William de Mohun who had married Walter's daughter Agnes. (fn. 2) Moreover, Gilbert held in the immediate neighbourhood at Willington in Barcheston (q.v.). In 1086 WHICHFORD was held of Gilbert by Rotbert; before the conquest Wlf held it; it was assessed at the large figure of 15 hides, and included 2 mills, meadow 3 furlongs in length and as much in breadth, and woodland 1 furlong in length and breadth. (fn. 3)
The manor is next heard of in 1194, when it escheated to the Crown. (fn. 4) The following year it was restocked (fn. 5) and after this was farmed at £15. (fn. 6) It had belonged to Joelin de Pomeray, (fn. 7) probably identical with Joscelin brother of Henry de Pomeray; (fn. 8) he may have obtained it by marriage, as there was a Joan de Pomeray daughter of Henry de Mohun. (fn. 9) In 1204 King John granted the manor to Reynold de Mohun, (fn. 10) to whose widow Alice land in Whichford was assigned in 1215. (fn. 11) It then descended in this family, one knight's fee here being held in 1235 by Reynold de Mohun, (fn. 12) who had a grant of free warren in 1253. (fn. 13) John de Mohun was lord of Whichford in 1279. (fn. 14)
In 1305 the manor formed part of the settlement of John son of John de Mohun on his marriage with Christiane daughter of John, Lord Segrave, (fn. 15) and in 1316 John de Mohun was lord of Whichford. (fn. 16) After the death of Joan widow of the last John de Mohun in 1405 (fn. 17) the manor passed with Long Compton (q.v.) to their grandson Richard, Lord Strange, (fn. 18) whose granddaughter Joan married George Stanley and died in 1514. (fn. 19) For about a century it remained with the Stanleys, Earls of Derby, (fn. 20) but it was sold by Earl William early in the 17th century to Ralph Sheldon of Beoley. (fn. 21) In this family it descended with Weston-by-Cherington in Long Compton (q.v.), being sold about 1820 to George Philips. (fn. 22) He was created a baronet in 1828 and died in 1847, and his son Sir George Richard Philips left three daughters, of whom the eldest Julia married Adam, 2nd Earl of Camperdown; (fn. 23) their son Robert, 3rd Earl, was lord of the manor in 1900, (fn. 24) but since his death in 1928 the manorial rights appear to have lapsed.
The first mention of STOURTON appears to be in 1206, when Hugh de Gundeville sued Ralph de Welleford for 3 hides here. (fn. 25) Ralph had been farmer of the manor of Whichford in 1197. (fn. 26) He gave land in Stourton and Welford to his sister Margery wife of William Cumin, who subsequently, before 1220, married William Hose, or Huse. (fn. 27) In 1221 William Huse and Margery sued Alice de Mohun for property including 2 carucates of land and 2 mills in Stourton; (fn. 28) and after Margery's death Alice de Mohun obtained the custody of the manor of Stourton, which was held of her, on the false suggestion that its descent was in dispute; but in 1236 it was shown that Margery daughter of William Cumin was sole heir, and the manor was handed over to her and her husband John de Cantilupe. (fn. 29) In 1279 Margery de Cantilupe held Stourton, a member of Whichford, from John de Mohun as 2/3 knight's fee. (fn. 30) Their granddaughter Eleanor married Thomas West, whose grandson Sir Thomas sold the manor to John Harewell (fn. 31) of Wootton Wawen (q.v.), whose sons William of Henley-in-Arden and Roger of Morehall were apparently joint lords in 1432. (fn. 32) In 1553 tenements in Stourton which had belonged to the gild of Brailes paid rents to 'Master Harwell', (fn. 33) and Edmund Harewell and Susan his wife in 1594 made a conveyance of the manor and 2 water-mills to William Millwarde. (fn. 34) If this was Sir Edmund Harewell of Besford the sale was no doubt part of the general dispersal of his estates. (fn. 35) The subsequent history of the manor is obscure. In 1771 Edward Croft was lord; (fn. 36) in 1783 Richard and Ann Croft, spinster, were dealing with fishing rights in Stourton; (fn. 37) and in 1786 Catherine Croft held the manor. (fn. 38) John Woodcock owned it between 1814 and 1817 and Anna Woodcock in 1831 (fn. 39) and 1850. (fn. 40)
On the opposite side of the River Stour the Abbey of Westminster's manor of Sutton, in Gloucestershire, suffered from floods, and in order to have control of the river the monks seem to have persuaded Queen Philippa in 1369 to acquire the manor of Stourton and present it to them. (fn. 41) The project fell through, but in 1375 Richard Rook, Walter Perham, and John Pecche obtained licence to grant 2 acres of pasture in Stourton to enable the monks to divert the course of the river and enclose their pasture, in return for which they should maintain a taper burning daily in the church of Westminster. (fn. 42)
The hamlet of Ascott was a member of Whichford manor in 1279, at which time John de Mohun had 18 bond tenants there. (fn. 43) In the 18th century the main manor was known as the manor of Whichford and Ascott. (fn. 44)
The parish church of ST. MICHAEL consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, south chapel incorporating a south porch to the nave, and a north-west tower.
The nave dates from c. 1150 but the only architectural feature remaining is the south doorway. Early in the 13th century a north aisle was added, with an arcade of three bays: the present aisle is wider than the normal aisle of that period and was probably widened later in the century.
The chancel was enlarged in the 13th century but was largely reconstructed in the first half of the 14th century, when windows in the nave were also altered.
The tower was built in two or three progressive periods during the 14th century. Its position at the west end of the aisle and overlapping the west wall of the nave is unusual, but it may be accounted for by the need for keeping the west window of the nave for the sake of light.
The last addition to the plan was the chapel south of the east half of the nave, built about 1330, apparently as a memorial for a member of the Mohun family whose tomb exists in the south wall. The chapel was kept short because of the south doorway, but the south porch, which was probably of the 13th century, was altered and incorporated as part of the same scheme. Finally the tall clearstory was added to the nave, with a range of south windows, and a new roof provided, probably before the middle of the 15th century.
The north windows suffered rather badly in crude repairs of the 17th or 18th century. There have been modern repairs in some of the other windows, &c.
The chancel (about 28 ft. by 16½ ft.) has a 14thcentury east window of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights and net tracery in a two-centred head with an external hood-mould and chamfered rear-arch: the jambs are of two chamfered orders and the splays are plastered. The north and south walls have each two two-light windows of the same date and style but the jambs are of a single chamfer. West of the south windows is a 13th-century lancet low-side with rebated and chamfered jambs and a plain hood. The 13thcentury priest's doorway has an edge-roll to the jambs and pointed head and a hood-mould with mask-stops; the cemented rear-arch is semicircular.
There is a 13th-century piscina with a trefoiled pointed head and hood-mould with mask-stops. The jambs are moulded with an undercut filleted edge-roll; the sill projects on a moulded corbel-capital and has a round basin.
The walls are of barely coursed streaky rubble, mostly grey, with cream-grey angle-dressings. The east wall has a chamfered plinth dying southwards into the ground: the side walls show no plinths, but footings on the north side are exposed.
The gabled roof is modern, of trussed rafter type, and is covered with stone tiles.
The chancel arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders with fairly large voussoirs: the inner is carried on engaged round shafts with very plain capitals and modern moulded semi-octagonal bases: the outer on the west face is carried on quarter-round sunk edgerolls or quasi-shafts, the northern having an ancient roll-mould base. The responds on the chancel side have a very slightly bevelled square outer order, on which the outer order of the arch stops abruptly. The wall containing the arch is thinner (2 ft. 3 in.) than the other main walls and the south half of the head is distorted by settlement. The whole was no doubt a widening of the 15th century with the re-use of the 13th-century shafts.
The nave (about 51½ ft. by 19 ft.) has an early-13thcentury north arcade of three 12½ ft. bays with a 9½ ft. stretch of wall (3 ft. thick) west of it. The heads are two-centred and of two chamfered orders with small voussoirs and have a plain chamfered hood on each face. The eastern pillar is round and the west respond a half-round, both with fairly simple moulded capitals, while the western pillar is octagonal and the east respond semi-octagonal: these have carved capitals, that change from octagonal to round in the upper parts. The respond has a series of lobed leaves at the top of the bell without stalks, the pillar a series of conjoined primitive fleurs-de-lis at the angles; all the moulded abaci are of the same contour. The bases are of the typical 'hold water' type on chamfered square subbases, except that to the western pillar, which has chamfered sub-base only.
In the east half of the south side is an 11-ft. archway to the south chapel, of c. 1330. It is all of dark-tinted stone and is of two shallow chamfered orders, the outer continuing in the pointed head from the responds and the inner having moulded capitals and bases. East of it modern steps lead through the wall to the pulpit.
The south doorway is only a little west of midway in the south wall. It is of about mid-12th-century date and has a round head with roll-and-hollow cheveron ornament and a chamfered hood-mould decorated with billet and checker ornament. It incloses a tympanum which is plain except for a roll-moulded lower edge above which is a line of shallow diaper ornament, and two rows of cable-mould and one of zigzag lightly carved as a border to follow the curve of the head. The arch is carried on nook-shafts that have differently carved capitals, the eastern of cushion form with a small vertical cable-mould in the angle and the vertical sides enriched with diaper-work. The western has the curved underside carved with triplets of long leaves with bead ornament between the leaves and a vertical cablemould at the angle with a voluted head. The abaci are grooved and chamfered. The moulded bases have almost lost their original forms. It is all of lightyellowish stone.
The narrow window west of the doorway is of two trefoiled round-headed lights and semi-quatrefoils in a square head with an external label with head-stops. The jambs, of two orders in deep brown stone, may be of the 13th century, the head, of light yellow stone, probably of the early 15th century.
In the west wall is a 14th-century three-light window like the east window of the chancel, but the net tracery is modern.
The south wall of the clearstory has a range of five tall square-headed windows, each of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights and vertical tracery, with an external label and cambered rear lintel.
The lower wall to the west of the porch, over 3 ft. thick, and the west wall are of irregular rubble, mostly yellow: just west of the porch high up is reset a defaced corbel head of cream-grey stone. At the south-west angle is a 15th-century diagonal buttress of ashlar with a plinth. There is a string-course at the base of the clearstory, above which the faces set back a little outside. The ashlar parapet is plain: in its string-course is a carved human head above each window; two of them are women with long side-hair coiffures of the early15th-century style. The east and west ends have lowpitched gables. Above the east is a contemporary stone bell-cote, probably now not complete. In it hangs an inscribed bell of 1707. Between the second and third windows from the east is an applied sundial dated 1787.
At the east end is the original south-east angle of the nave with dressings forming a straight joint with the east wall of the south chapel.
The flat low-pitched roof is modern, in five bays, and is covered with lead.
The north aisle (about 13½ ft. wide) has a 13thcentury east window of three trefoiled lancets, the middle taller than the others; there is no tracery but the external hood-mould forms a segmental-pointed arch above the lights. In the north wall are three windows: the easternmost is of three 13th-century lights like the east window, but the two outer lights were later widened and the trefoiled heads are therefore distorted in their outer halves. Some attempt has been made at tracery by a small quatrefoiled piercing on either side of the head of the middle light. Below them are tiny circular shallow carvings, the western with a cross, the eastern (less discernible) apparently a fleurde-lis. The jambs are of the 15th century or later with large courses of cream-tinted stone. The chamfered rear-arch is semicircular. The other two were each of two lights of the same style and date, with a quatrefoil circle between the heads, but were altered subsequently: the second has the original head of brown Hornton stone but the jambs, &c., are of light cream stone. The head of the third was badly reset and projects 2 in. externally from the wall-face. Each of the traceried heads is in one single piece of stone.
The 13th-century north doorway, now blocked with brickwork, has a chamfered pointed head springing from impost moulds enriched with nail-head ornament, and has a hood-mould with defaced head-stops: the eastern is a lady's in a square head-dress, the western possibly a defaced knight's head: at the apex is another, probably a priest's head. The jambs are chamfered and are stopped square below the abaci.
In the south wall east of the arcade is a piscina with chamfered jambs and trefoiled head.
The gabled roof, of four main bays and short end bays, is modern.
The 14th-century chapel (about 24 ft. by 10¾ ft.) south of the nave is now used as a vestry. It has an east window of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights and foiled intersecting tracery in a two-centred head with a hoodmould. It is of deep yellow. Hornton stone. The jambs are of two chamfered orders. In the south wall are two windows of similar type, but each of two lights. West of them is an original doorway with wave-moulded jambs and pointed head with a hood-mould. Above the doorway outside is a large rectangular grey-white stone of later date carved in very low relief with a blank shield. Under the south-eastern window is a 14thcentury piscina with wave-moulded jambs and trefoiled gabled head and hood-mould: the sill has a round basin.
The south porch forms the west end of the chapel. The south entrance has a pointed head of two chamfered orders and jambs of one order, with moulded capitals and bases, which have been cut inside with rebates for a door. The work is all of deep yellow stone. In the west wall is a blocked 13th-century lancet window like the low-side window in the chancel; it is of light yellow stone. Its presence may indicate an earlier porch. Inside are stone side-benches that stop about a yard short of the south wall. At the south end of the west wall is a 14th-century low buttress to rebut the entrance arch. At the eaves and the sloping verges of the two end walls are moulded string-courses. On a south-east quoin is scratched a late medieval circular sundial with Roman numerals and a deep socket for the gnomon. There are traces of another west of the porchentrance. The flat lean-to roof is modern and covered with lead.
The north-west tower (11½ ft. square) is of three stages divided by splayed string-courses with hollowmoulded lower edges. The masonry is very obviously of several periods. The lowest stage, which has no plinth, is mostly of 14th-century roughly squared small rubble of deep yellow Hornton stone; the second stage is mostly of lighter-tinted stones, larger, squared, and coursed; but the uppermost third part of it changes to less regular stonework with some admixture of the deeper-coloured Hornton stone. The west angles of these two lower stages have diagonal buttresses which change material at the same levels. The top stage is of rather irregular squared rubble, partly Hornton yellow and partly lighter-tinted stone, with grey-cream ashlar angle-dressings. The ashlar parapet is embattled with returned copings to the merlons.
The small archway (only 5 ft. wide) into the north aisle is walled up to form recesses on both faces. It has splayed jambs and a pointed head of two chamfered orders. In the west wall is an 18th-century doorway with an arched lintel: on the stonework are random scratchings including the date 1771. Above it is the west window, of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil; the two-centred head and hood-mould are of one single piece of deep yellow Hornton stone, the jambs and mullion are of cream-grey stone (of later repair?). The second stage has small rectangular west and south lights. The bell-chamber has windows of two cinquefoiled pointed lights and a quatrefoiled circle in a two-centred head with a hood-mould; the north window tracery is clumsily repaired.
The octagonal font is rather massive, being 2 ft. 8 in. broad to 3 ft. 3 in. in height, and it is only 5 in. less at the base. The bowl is plain but the lower half has a series of small mouldings of late-12th- or early-13thcentury character.
A fair amount of ancient glass survives. In the tracery of the east window of the chancel, at the top, is a Crucifixion with the white figure of our Lord wearing a yellow loin-cloth, on a green cross with ruby and blue drapery behind it. The foils have yellow and black line vine patterns and borders. In the lower quatrefoils are ministering angels with censers on a ruby background; all of the 14th century, except the south angel, restored.
The north windows of the chancel have each two shields of the Mohun arms—or a cross engrailed sable: the easternmost is of the 14th century, the others later. In the foils is vine ornament.
The easternmost north window of the north aisle has three reset roundels. (fn. 45) The middle is blue with yellow cinquefoils, one each side and one above a shield charged argent a saltire engrailed gules. The other two roundels are barry or and azure with an orle of martlets sable inclosing shields of Mohun. The second north window has in its top tracery-light a ruby ring inclosing what appears to be a winged helmet of gold with blue infilling and with green outside the ring. The third window has two smaller shields with the Mohun arms but they are not leaded in with the main glass.
In the tracery of the east window of the south chapel is white and yellow 15th-century glass. The middle of the three lowest trefoils has a head of Christ and the other two have saints' heads in roundels. The northern of the two quatrefoils above has a seated figure of the Blessed Virgin; the other is a restored reverse replica of it: the two were probably the Annunciation originally. In the top piercing is a Holy Dove. There are ancient black and yellow foliated surrounds. The trefoiled head of the middle main light has a ruby border with yellow flowers and some canopy tabernacle work. The two south windows contain between them the four symbols of the Evangelists and the monograms [Ihs] and [Xri].
There are three tomb recesses in the church. That below the north-east window of the north aisle was probably the founder's tomb, but only the late-13thcentury recess remains. It has moulded jambs and a segmental-pointed arch with a hood-mould. It goes down well below the floor-level but shows no slab or coffin-lid.
Another in the south wall of the south chapel between the windows is also coeval with that part. It has splayed jambs with two wave-moulds and a twocentred head with a hood-mould. A coffin-lid or slab in it is carved in low relief with an engrailed cross and near the head a shield with the engrailed cross of the Mohuns with a label of three points. Above the recess in the wall face is a stone with a blank shield.
The recess in the north wall of the chancel between the windows is of the 15th or 16th century and has jambs and four-centred arch of a double-ogee moulded order and a hood-mould. In it is a high-tomb with a Latin inscription to Dominus John Merton, rector and chaplain to Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby. The date of his death is not filled in, but was 1537. The top slab of alabaster is incised with his effigy in mass vest ments; on his right is a chalice and wafer and on his left a book. The sides of the stone base are treated with quatrefoiled panels inclosing shields and other carvings; the quatrefoil at the west end is carved with a pouch or book and gasinges (pair of spectacles). The middle south panel has a foliage centre, the other two have shields bearing chalices. That at the east end has a blank shield.
On the south side of the chancel is another high tomb to Nicholas Asheton, B.D. of Cambridge, also rector and chaplain to the Earl of Derby: he was 'a Lancashire man of Great Lever', formerly vicar at Kendal, and died 30 September 1582. The top slab of grey granite has his brass effigy in a Geneva gown, &c., and at the four corners are brass and lead shields bearing his arms—a roundel with a crescent above a pierced molet, quartering, two bends the upper engrailed. The base has three panels each side and one each end with ogee heads and crocketed canopies over a trefoiled grille, and also has a fluted frieze. On the wall above the tomb is a large stone panel carved in relief with a shield of arms in a wreath with flanking scrolls, and the initials na, and a Latin inscription, all in a moulded frame.
There are several mural monuments, including one to the Rev. Richard Watkins, rector, died 1709 aged 82, and another to his wife Elizabeth (Hyckes), 1709, aged 71.
On the south wall of the nave east of the archway is a brass inscription in Latin to William Braggys, former rector of 'this church' and of Whichford, and William Wright, B.A., his parochial chaplain, who both died 18 September 1485. This is said to have been brought from Batsford near Moreton-in-the-Marsh by a late rector.
There are six bells (fn. 46) in the tower, the fourth by William Bagley, 1695, the fifth by Taylor, 1848, and the others by Taylor, 1904.
The communion cup, with paten cover, probably dates from the Restoration period (? 1676). (fn. 47)
The registers date from 1540.
In the churchyard are many carved headstones, some probably of the 17th century.
The church of Whichford was given c. 1120 to Bridlington Priory by William de Mohun and his wife Agnes, daughter of Walter de Gand, the founder of the Priory. But although this gift was among those confirmed by Henry I, Stephen, and Henry II, (fn. 48) it is doubtful whether it ever took effect. In any case the advowson was in the hands of the Mohuns by the end of the 13th century, (fn. 49) and it remained attached to the manor until at least 1745, when Edward Sheldon was patron. (fn. 50) By 1763, however, it was in the hands of 'Mr. Horn, clerk', (fn. 51) who was presumably the Thomas Horne of Whichford, clerk, whose son Thomas matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1755. (fn. 52) By 1768 the patronage had come to Susannah Horne, widow, (fn. 53) and Mrs. Horne is named as patron in 1822. (fn. 54) The advowson was acquired by Earl Beauchamp before 1831 (fn. 55) and he sold it in 1860 to Christ Church, Oxford. (fn. 56)
Richard Badger's Charity. The parish of Whichford receives two yearly sums of £17 16s. 9d. from the trustees of this charity. One is applied towards the cost of keeping the parish church in proper repair, and the other is applied for the benefit of the deserving poor.
Robert Wincott by will proved 8 Feb. 1892 gave to the rector, churchwardens, and guardians of the poor £900, the interest, now amounting to £23, to be applied in the distribution of coal to the poor of Whichford and Ascott.