A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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Population: 1911, 189; 1921, 190; 1931, 176.
On the east this parish adjoins Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, but the portion of the former county which constituted the extra-parochial district of Stoneton, on the north-east edge of the parish, has been taken into Warwickshire since 1896. The ancient boundaries of Wormleighton are set out in the charter of King Eadwy, dated 956, by which he gave the vill to Earl Æfhere (fn. 1) and seem, so far as they can be identified, to agree fairly well with those of the present parish. They begin at Cranmere, which was probably on the site of the present Wormleighton Reservoir (a mile due south of the village), constructed to supply the Oxford and Birmingham Canal, which winds through the parish. From the mere they run to 'the street', i.e. the road from Banbury to Southam, make a divagation to the west, and rejoin the road, up which they pass to 'the little brook', presumably that coming from Radbourne. They then run up the brook and apparently take in what is now the extra-parochial district of Wills Pastures (part of which is glebe of Wormleighton), (fn. 2) rejoining the present parish boundaries at 'the salt street', a lane running nearly due east to cross a small stream at the 'Wilmanford' of the charter. The next few landmarks are not identifiable, but they seem to include Stoneton, as the bounds run down 'the ridgeway', which is presumably the lane leading south on the high ground east of Stoneton. This way carries on to 'Claeihaema broc', or 'Cranmeres broc', which flows (past Claydon) into Cranmere.
The country is undulating, open, and lacking timber, with the exception of a few small spinneys and the immediate neighbourhood of the village. The attractive village lies on a slight hill a mile east of the BanburySoutham road on a branch leading from it to Bodington (Northants). It contains a number of pleasant stone cottages, but the only house of any antiquity is the Manor House.
The part of Wormleighton Manor House still standing and occupied was the north wing or portion of a large brick house built about 1512 by John Spencer to replace the 'sory thached hows' that he found when he bought the estate. (fn. 3) It extended farther west and also southwards, but there is now no visible evidence of the size or shape of the house.
The style adopted was the embattled parapet type of Tudor building rather than the gabled forms of an earlier as well as of a later period, and perhaps the design was influenced by that of Compton Wyniates, 10 miles away, or vice versa. The gatehouse was added in 1613 by Sir Robert, first Lord Spencer, and he or his son seem to have made alterations and perhaps enlargements to the main building, reverting to the use of the native stone instead of brick.
The greater part of the house is said to have been destroyed during the Cromwellian wars, and the many repairs and alterations of the later 17th century and since make it difficult to visualize the ancient house. The original part left seems to have consisted of two great chambers one above the other, some 40 ft. long, and two others west of them, at least 27 ft. long. The upper great chamber was known as the 'Star Chamber' from former decoration which has now vanished. In the 17th century (about 1630 from the heraldry) the lower great chamber was reduced by the insertion of inner south and west walls forming corridors outside them and the southern containing a fire-place. The 'Star Chamber' was reduced only on the south side, for a fire-place. Presumably neither chamber had a fireplace originally.
The plan is rectangular. The west part of it, approximately a quarter of the length, is lower and mainly of 18th-century brickwork on the north side, but there are remains of ancient stonework on the south side, probably indicating 17th-century repairs after the demolition of a south range.
Adjoining the west end a lower small wing retains fragments of the early-16th-century brickwork.
The north front is the best preserved despite the blockings and alterations to windows and doorways. It is in three bays of which the westernmost, a low one of two stones with two gables, is a late rebuilding. The other two bays, roughly 70 ft. long, are marked by 16th-century buttresses and are of two tall stories, each about 15 ft. or more in height. The wall is of early-16th-century brickwork with yellow stone dressings to the windows and doorways, &c. The parapet is of brick but has a moulded string-course of stone, which breaks forward once in each bay round the former rain-water outlet-pipes (now replaced by modern down-pipes). It is also embattled, with the stone copings returning down the sides of the merlons. The three buttresses, of which that at the north-east angle is diagonal, are of three stages with plain offsets and reach almost to the parapet string-course. Above them are V-shaped pilasters indicating former pinnacles.
There are two ranges of tall square-headed windows with four-centred lights and moulded labels: the mullions and transoms are hollow-chamfered, the jambs, heads, and middle master-mullions of two orders, the outer splayed. In the upper story the easternmost, of four lights, retains its full glazing. The second is blocked and mutilated for a modern loft-doorway. The third of three lights is also blocked but complete. These three windows served the 'Star Chamber'. The fourth window, which serves the chamber west of it, is blocked below the transom. In the lower story, the third, of three lights, is filled in below the transom with wood framing and partly converted into a doorway into the 17th-century corridor, making it into an entrance lobby. West of these were two two-light similar windows, but they are both bricked up flush with the wallface. Below both of them are 18th- or 19th-century windows lighting the kitchen, but between them is a blocked original doorway. The wall was once covered with 18th-century cement facing and must then have presented a very gaunt appearance.
The east end of the block, about 36 ft. wide outside, is also of red brickwork with a few black bricks but no diaper ornament. In it was a three-sided bay window of full height, but the upper part which lighted the 'Star Chamber' has been entirely removed. The lower half has lights of the same height, &c., as the north windows, four in the middle and one in each splay.
The parapet of the north front returns for only one embrasure to meet the former bay window. The southern third part of the wall has more than half of a steeply pitched gable-head the apex of which rises above the parapet-level, but the eaves are very much lower: it is of the same brickwork as the other but may be a later alteration.
At the south-east angle a square, winding staircase projects a little, and in it are two two-light squareheaded windows one above the other, with labels. The south-east diagonal buttress is of only two stages.
The south side is of a variety of materials that meet with vertical seams and straight joints. The east end has about 9 ft. of the original brickwork, i.e. the side of the stair-turret, having some diaper-work in the upper part. This meets, with a straight joint, yellow ashlar walling, which extends about 60 ft., i.e. about the same length as the original higher part of the north front. This is probably all 17th-century, and next to the stair-turret is a 17th-century doorway with a fourcentred head. The next west stretch of about 40 ft. is of stone-rubble walling, which may mark the width of a former west range where it adjoined the north range. The windows and doorways in it are modern; one doorway is blocked, and above it is reset an achievement of Spencer. Above another doorway at the west end of this rubble part is a similar shield without the supporters, &c. The rubble walling with its quoins overlaps a lower and narrow wing which may have been a kitchen or outbuilding originally.
Its south side, flush with the main wall, is of ashlar; its gabled west wall is mostly of rubble, and its north wall has a projecting chimney-stack, also of ashlar; but the part between the chimney-stack and the west main wall has some 16th-century brickwork with diaper ornament and a contemporary stone doorway.
The chimney-stack above the 'Star Chamber' fireplace has four detached square shafts set diagonally on a base (above the roof) of thin bricks. The roof is tiled.
There is not much ancient detail inside. The lobby formed by the cutting-off of the corridor from the lower great chambers is entered by the doorway inserted below the third north window. The doorway into the chamber has 17th-century moulded jambs and arched and square head: above it is a kind of frieze, formed by upper and lower moulded string-courses, in which are three carved stone shields. The doorway at the north end of the west wall of the lobby into the present kitchen is similar but has spandrels carved with shields and no shields above it. Another similar doorway at the south end of the wall has been partly mutilated and reduced in size. The chamber is now used as a scullery, &c. In its south wall was a stone fire-place, now mostly destroyed: only a fragment of its moulded west jamb is left. The back of it projects into the south corridor. The chamber, which is about 15 ft. high, has a plain plastered ceiling but parts of the original ceiling that covered the whole original large chamber still remain in the entrance lobby, &c. These have moulded main-beams with traceried soffits between small roll-mouldings, and with masons' joints at the intersections. The compartments formed by these are subdivided into four by small moulded ribs.
The great upper chamber, the 'Star Chamber', is empty and seems to have been used last century as a farm-loft. It had a stone fire-place in the south wall with shields of Spencer and another in the spandrels of the arch, but this has been removed.
The roof above the parapeted part is gabled and may be 17th-century repair. Its construction cannot be seen from the interior.
The interior of the remainder is all modernized.
South of the house, about 100 ft., stands the twostoried gatehouse of 1613, built of yellow ashlar. It is of three bays, the middle with the wide gateway, which is flanked on the east by a low tower and on the west by a gabled lodge. The 11 ft. archways are of two chamfered orders externally and are round-headed. Above the arches are entablatures or string-courses with panelled friezes, those on the south having much-decayed marigold central carvings. The upper windows are of four lights with plain square heads: a moulded stringcourse immediately above them passes right across the fronts and round the tower, and a little higher are the string-courses and copings of the plain parapets. That on the south front has an applied sundial. Between the entablatures and the upper window-sills are carved achievements of arms. On the north face the middle achievement has the arms of Spencer (eight quarters as on the south of the house) with dragon and griffin supporters. On the west of it is a shield of Spencer and on the east Willoughby, with the date 1613. On the south face the middle square panel has the Stuart Royal Arms with supporters and crest and the side panels a rose and a thistle and the date 1613. These carvings are of white stone.
In the side-walls of the gateway are four-centred doorways.
The lower west lodge, about 27 ft. long outside and of two stories, has plain square-headed windows with labels and four-centred doorways, and a plain central chimney.
The east tower, about 16 ft. wide outside, is in four stages with moulded string-courses (except between the ground floor and first floor) and a plain parapet. The lowest story has a four-light window in the west half of the north wall and three-light windows to the three stories above, also east windows to the third and fourth stories and a south window to the fourth story. The tower and the corner of the gateway were abutted on the south side by a building of about the same height as the lodge: faint traces of its gabled roof remain on the tower wall and the lower string-course was interrupted by it. A low modern farm-building now takes its place.
About 80 ft. farther south is another two-storied range which was probably part of 17th-century stable buildings. At the east end of each side-wall is the nib of the rebated jamb of a former gateway with hooks for hinges.
The walls are of yellow ashlar. The mullioned windows have labels; the upper windows are dormers. The north side is much more modernized and has an original projecting staircase with a winding stair. The interior has been altered but the middle room has a 9 ft. fire-place. Another fire-place has been altered but behind it is a long closet fashioned in what appears to have been a wide four-centred recess.
When William Cope, Cofferer of the Household to Henry VII, received a grant of the manor in 1498 he promptly inclosed 12 holdings, each of 20 acres of arable land, and converted it into grazing for sheep. This entailed the destruction of 12 messuages and 3 cottages and the eviction of 60 persons, who were reduced to tears and idleness and possibly starvation. On the other hand, the value of the land to Cope rose from £40 yearly to £60. (fn. 4) Sir Edward Raleigh, of Farnborough, is said to have wasted another 6 messuages. (fn. 5) This would seem to have been as trustee to the John Spencer who died in 1497, (fn. 6) as he had enfeoffed Sir Edward in lands in Wormleighton to his own use and the execution of his will. (fn. 7) After John Spencer (nephew of the other John) had bought the manor he was ordered (probably in 1518) to throw down his hedges and ditches and restore the ground to arable. To this he made a reasoned reply to the effect that he had bought the estate at the enhanced value of £2,000; that he had built a great 'manour place' where he had a household of nearly 60 persons, and also four other houses, so that the population was nearly as large as before Cope's inclosure; that he had restored and greatly improved the church and its services; that whereas there had been no timber or wood for fuel in the parish he had planted many trees, especially in his hedgerows, to the great advantage of the people; and that he specialized in fattening cattle for the London market, which would be impossible if his ground had to be thrown open again. (fn. 8) Apparently in the end he did rebuild the 12 houses, but did not assign so much land to them. (fn. 9)
At the time of the Domesday Survey MANOR WORMLEIGHTON was divided into three portions. Of these the largest, 3 hides, was held of Turchil by Warin, two knights also holding under Warin 1 hide and 1 virgate; this had been held by Ordric, Ulwin, and Ulvric before the Conquest. (fn. 10) Another 1½ hides were held by Gilbert under the Count of Meulan, and had been held by Leuric. (fn. 11) Another ¾ hide was held by William under Geoffrey de Mandeville. (fn. 12) The only later reference to this last holding appears to be in 1221, when Galiena widow of John de Hodenhull sued James de Calceto for onethird of a rent of 33s. 8d. in Wormleighton as dower. He said that he only held it in right of a wardship granted to him by Earl William de Mandeville, whom he called to warrant. (fn. 13)
The overlordship of the two combined larger estates passed to the Earls of Warwick, (fn. 14) and so to the Crown. (fn. 15) A mesne lordship was held by Richard de Harcourt in 1242; (fn. 16) by his grandson Richard in 1279 (fn. 17) and at the time of his death in 1292 or 1293; (fn. 18) and by the latter's great-grandson Sir Thomas in 1376; (fn. 19) but after this no more is heard of the Harcourt interest.
The manor seems to have been granted to Geoffrey de Clinton, Chamberlain to Henry I, as his son Geoffrey gave the church (see below) to Kenilworth Priory and enfeoffed Richard Walsh, or Waleys, in the manor, (fn. 20) to hold as one knight's fee; which grant was confirmed by his son Henry de Clinton. (fn. 21) Richard's estate was held by his widow Hodierne, (fn. 22) and then passed to their daughter Pernel, who was holding the fee in 1235. (fn. 23) Pernel married Geoffrey Peche (fn. 24) and had a son Richard, who was dead before 1242, when his heir held the fee. (fn. 25) This heir was John Peche who married Hawise de Arden, and the manor of Wormleighton subsequently descended with that of Hampton-in-Arden (q.v.). (fn. 26) In 1279 John Peche, lord of Wormleighton, was said to hold the manor as one fee of Theobald de Neville, who held of Richard de Harecourt; (fn. 27) and on the death of the said Richard in 1292–3 Theobald was holding the vill of Wormleighton of him as half a fee; (fn. 28) but this interposition of Theobald was temporary and unexplained. The last of the line, Sir John Peche, who died 1 May 1386, left a widow Katharine and two daughters, Joan, aged 2¾, and Margaret, who was only one day old at the time of his death. (fn. 29) In 1411 the manor was settled for life on Katharine with remainder in tail to Margaret and her husband Sir William Mountfort of Coleshill. (fn. 30) His grandson Sir Simon Mountfort was attainted for treason in 1495 and his estates seized into the king's hands. (fn. 31)
In some way the manor came into the possession of John Spicer, of whom a messuage and 3½ virgates were held by John Spencer at his death in 1497; (fn. 32) and John Spicer and Ellen his wife made a conveyance of the manor of Wormleighton to Humphrey Coningsby and others, presumably in trust, in 1499. (fn. 33) The manor had, however, already been granted by the king in the previous year to William Cope. (fn. 34) It was possibly because of a disputed title to the estate that the grant was renewed to Cope in 1503. (fn. 35) William Cope had married Joan, or Jane, daughter of the above-mentioned John Spencer, (fn. 36) and in 1506 he sold the manor to his wife's cousin John, son of William Spencer of Snitterfield. (fn. 37) This John Spencer was knighted by Henry VIII and died in 1522, (fn. 38) and the manor then descended in the family; (fn. 39) of whom Robert was created Baron Spencer of Wormleighton in 1603. His grandson Henry was made Earl of Sunderland in 1643, shortly before his death on the battlefield of Newbury. Charles, the 3rd Earl, married Anne, second daughter of the Duke of Marlborough, and his son Charles inherited that dukedom in 1733. The duke conveyed the Wormleighton estates to his younger brother, John, (fn. 40) whose son John was created Earl Spencer in 1765, and the manor is now owned by the 7th Earl Spencer.
The family of Passelewe held an estate in the parish for several generations. Ralph Passelewe was associated with Richard Peche in 1239 in a confirmation of the church to Kenilworth Priory. (fn. 41) Ralph died shortly after this, and his son (fn. 42) John, who gave 4 acres in Wormleighton to Chalcombe Priory, (fn. 43) was holding 2 ploughlands here of John Peche by service of half a knight's fee in 1279. (fn. 44) His son John died c. 1308 and was succeeded by his kinsman Nicholas Passelewe, (fn. 45) who was rated for the subsidy in this vill equally with Sir John Peche in 1332. (fn. 46) No more is known of this estate, but in 1428 the ¾ knight's fee in Wormleighton was recorded as 'formerly of John Peche and Nicholas Passelewe'. (fn. 47)
When the Oxfordshire Priory of Clattercote in 1216 received from Pope Innocent a confirmation of its estates these included one virgate in Wormleighton. (fn. 48) At the Dissolution the estates of the priory were given to William Peter and Gertrude his wife, including land in Wormleighton. (fn. 49) This he seems to have sold to the college of Christ Church, Oxford. (fn. 50)
The Northamptonshire Priory of Chalcombe also held land in the parish. Early in the 13th century Hodierne widow of Richard Waleys gave one virgate in Wormleighton; Pernel her daughter gave half a virgate, which gift was confirmed by her son Richard Peche; and John Passelewe 4 acres. (fn. 51) In 1315 John de la Port and Agnes complained against the Prior of Chalcombe for breaking their close at Wormleighton and damaging their property; (fn. 52) and when Agnes died in 1317 it was found that she had held of the priory for her life a messuage, 50 acres of land, and 1 acre of meadow, by rent of 8s. (fn. 53) This estate is not traceable later, being no doubt included in the priory's holdings 'in divers vills in Warwickshire' in 1535. (fn. 54)
The estates of the suppressed Priory of St. Sepulchre, Warwick, included in 1547 rents of 6s. 8d. from tenements in Wormleighton then in the occupation of— Spencer. (fn. 55)
The parish church of ST. PETER consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and west tower.
There was an early-12th-century church on the site, as indicated by the surviving angles of the original nave, which has roughly the common proportion of two squares, i.e. length roughly twice the breadth, although the walls are not at right angles, both east and west ends inclining westwards from north to south.
At the end of the 12th century the two narrow aisles were added with their arcades of three bays: the south doorway of this period still exists but the windows, which were probably small, were altered, chiefly in the 14th century, and the walls more or less rebuilt on the old foundations.
The west tower is also of the same period as the arcades, or slightly later, except for an alteration to the north-west buttress and possibly the north wall, which is thinner than the others, done in the 15th century.
The chancel was enlarged in the early 13th century, but its side windows were replaced by others in the 14th century and the east window in the 15th century. The east and south walls were rebuilt in the 18th century, when the older windows were reset.
The clearstory was raised above the nave in the 15th century and probably a flat lead-covered roof was provided, but this was replaced by the low-pitched slatecovered roof in the 16th or 17th century. The south porch was a 14th-or early-15th-century addition.
There have been several 18th- and 19th-century renovations and probably minor alterations to the architectural features, and the chancel-and south-aisle roofs have been renewed or replaced by modern roofs.
An interesting survival is the rood-screen and part of the rood-loft of the 15th century. Probably the chancel arch was widened for the screen.
The chancel (about 29 ft. by 15 ft.) has a 15thcentury east window of three cinquefoiled two-centred lights and vertical tracery in a four-centred head. The jambs and arch outside have a shallow wide casement hollow. It is of red-brown stone and the masonry does not course with the walling.
In the north wall are two windows inserted in the early 14th century: the eastern is of two trefoiled pointed lights and a quatrefoiled spandrel in a twocentred head with an external hood-mould with returned stops. The western is narrower; it is of two trefoiled round-headed lights and cusped leaf-tracery in a two-centred head with a similar hood-mould. The jambs of both are of one chamfer and both are of red sandstone with large courses that do not align with the walling. The two windows in the south wall are square-headed; the eastern is of two trefoiled ogeeheaded lights and tracery with a label, the western of two plain pointed lights, both with single-chamfered jambs. The eastern is probably of mid-late-14thcentury date, the western may be of the 13th century. Both are of red sandstone but in the resetting when the wall was rebuilt or refaced their external jamb-stones were all cut back to the same length so that straight joints were formed on each side of the windows instead of bonding. Just east of the second is a doorway with chamfered jambs and shouldered lintel of 18th-century stonework.
There is a plain locker at the east end of the north wall, and this wall also has a 13th-century internal string-course at window-ledge level: it stops short west of the locker and is broken away 2½ ft. west of the western window. It does not exist on the east and south walls.
The east wall is of 18th-century dark yellow finejointed ashlar and has a plinth of slight projection in two tall courses. It has a low-pitched gable with a hollow-chamfered coping, and the old base of a gablecross. The south wall is of similar masonry with the same plinth: this is treated at the top with beadmouldings where it is cut through by the doorway. The north wall is of ancient yellow and grey ashlar, probably 13th-century, and has a chamfered plinth level with the lower course of the east plinth. The face sets back 2 or 3 in. above the window heads, above which is later (18th-century?) walling.
The low-pitched roof is probably all modern: it has a cambered ceiling divided into panels by moulded ribs. On the east face of the nave is a cement line indicating the old and steeper-pitched chancel roof.
The two-centred chancel arch is of two chamfered orders with large voussoirs. The inner order has moulded capitals, perhaps of the 15th century but restored or retooled, of cream-yellow stone.
The nave is about 40½ ft. by 20½ ft. and its four angles show straight joints where they are met by the end walls of the aisles. They are of rough yellow irregular rubble with mostly small yellow angle-dressings. The east faces are tabled back about a foot, at a level a little below the chancel-eaves, to the thinner east wall above.
On both sides of the nave are arcades of c. 1190–1200 in three 13¾ ft. bays. The responds are square with chamfered angles and have grooved and hollowchamfered abaci. The 2 ft. pillars are cylindrical and have moulded bases on square chamfered sub-bases. The capitals have neck-moulds and bells of round plan like the pillars, but above these they are brought out to square with chamfered angles like the responds and have similar abaci. The heads are two-centred and of one ashlar chamfered order with hood-moulds like the abaci.
The clearstory has three 15th-century windows on each side, each of two trefoiled lights and vertical tracery under a square head without a label and with plastered segmental rear-arches. The walls are coursed and squared rough ashlar and have plain chamfered eaves-courses. The east wall is of earlier rubble-work with much ashlar patching.
The roof, of the 16th or 17th century, is a lowpitched gable of three bays with four trusses having plain cambered tie-beams supported by wall-posts and braces on plain stone corbels. On the tie-beams are king-posts, with straight braces below the ridge-pole, and side struts. The side purlins also have straight wind-braces.
The north aisle (about 6½ ft. wide) has a modern east window of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and tracery in a square head with a label. The easternmost of the three north windows is of c. 1330 and of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil in a twocentred head with an external hood-mould with headstops. The other two are late-14th-century insertions of two cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and tracery in a square head with an external hood-mould with volute stops. The jambs of all three are of two chamfered orders. The 14th-century north doorway has moulded jambs and pointed head with a hood-mould with volute stops.
Below and between the first two windows is a 14thcentury tomb recess with jambs moulded like those of the doorway and ogee arch with a hood-mould with round-volute or disk stops and a fleur-de-lis finial.
The walls are of squared ashlar in irregular-sized courses and although probably on the original foundations were rebuilt in the 14th century.
The roof, a low-pitched lean-to of three bays, has four moulded and highly cambered main cross-beams of the 15th or 16th century and is covered with slates.
The south aisle (about 7½ ft. wide) has a two-light east window like that of the north aisle, of modern stone but perhaps of 14th-century origin. The two eastern of the three south windows are also modern or completely restored 14th-century work: each is of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil, &c., in a two-centred head. The westernmost, of two trefoiled lights and plain tracery under a square head, is of the 15th century.
The south doorway is of the date of the arcades; it has jambs and pointed head of two chamfered orders with a hood-mould of a half-round section: at the springing level are grooved and hollow-chamfered abaci. In it is an ancient oak door with plain ironwork. In the west wall is a 13th-century lancet window. The walls show signs of various alterations but are probably on the original foundations: the western part of the south wall from the east wall of the porch westwards is 3 or 4 inches thicker than the east part and is largely of rubble masonry (probably original) below the windows up to a short straight joint below the middle window, where it changes to roughly squared masonry which, with the upper part of the wall, is probably 14th-century rebuilding.
The low-pitched lean-to roof is modern with plain straight tie-beams and principals.
The south porch may be of the 14th century: it is built of yellow stone ashlar and has a low-pitched gable. The entrance has jambs and two-centred head of a single ovolo-moulded order.
The west tower (10½ ft. square) is of three diminishing stages, the second stage a tall one, the others short, with walls of yellow squared rough ashlar and with a plain round mould by way of a plinth. The lower string-course is a plain chamfered set-back, the upper a round mould like the plinth. The plain parapet has been restored but retains the original square stringcourse and corbel-table of human and animal heads (many renewed). The middle corbel on the east side is carved with the Spencer crest and a partly effaced date 18 . . 9. Above the west angles are stumps of former pinnacles.
At the south-west angle is a pair of original shallow square buttresses reaching to the top of the second main stage, in four stages. They have the same round basemould, and four courses above it on the outer faces only is a chamfered set-back. The projecting offsets are splayed and on the weathering of the lowest are carved, out of solid, pairs of human-head bosses. In the 15th century the north-west pair was altered to a single diagonal buttress with a roughly round base mould imitating the original. The re-used lowest offset retains one of the two original human-head bosses.
Below the sill of the west window is another low original buttress, also with a carved head on the offset. The window is an original round-headed small light: the south internal splay is not so wide as the northern, possibly because of a former wooden stair to the upper floors. In the south wall is an original pointed doorway of two chamfered orders with a hood-mould. There is also a doorway in the east wall but its jambs and pointed head towards the nave are modern; the reveals and semicircular rear-arch towards the tower are original and the arch is scored with grooves by friction from bell-ropes; perhaps this was only a recess originally, like that at Little Compton.
The second stage has a comparatively modern lancet in the south wall: changes in the masonry suggest that there was once a larger window here.
Each of the bell-chamber windows is of two orders; the inner is chamfered, and has two lancet lights under a semicircular main head formed by the square outer order, the tympanum above the lancets being solid. The east window has been restored; the others have plain moulded capitals to the chamfered mullions.
There is a fair amount of old furniture, &c.
The communion table is of the late 17th century and has 3-in. turned legs. The panelling against the sanctuary walls is of the early 17th century and may have been brought from the Manor House. It has fluted pilasters and double-arched panels, and top friezes carved with raised foliage ornament.
The communion rails are also 17th-century work and have square posts with moulded and carved heads, turned balusters, and between the latter short pendent balusters from the moulded top-rail.
The font has a circular tapering bowl with a chamfered lower edge, round stem, and simply moulded base. It has been retooled but is probably of the 13th century, as it bears marks of former staples for the lid.
The rood-screen is of late-15th-century date. It has three double-bays on each side of a middle doorway. The last has a multifoiled depressed four-centred head; the door-posts are moulded and have foliage carvings as caps at the springing level. The other bays have higher four-centred arches; the moulded posts dividing them have at the springing level moulded corbel caps supporting carved crowned men's heads. The bays are subdivided by moulded muntins: each half-bay has a cinquefoiled ogee head, well below the main arch, and tracery, the foils having rosette cusp-points. Each halfbay of the closed panels below the middle rail has a pair of traceried heads divided by a smaller muntin. On the west face the main posts are continued as the bases of the half-arched ribs of the former canopy, now abolished, and there is traceried infilling above the main arches. Above this is a modern traceried frieze. On the east side the ribbed canopy remains in place, with interlacing ribs, and the moulded beam forming the sill of the rood-loft is original. The loft has a panelled east front of 19 open bays with trefoiled ogee heads with crocketed finials and tracery below the moulded top rail of the front.
In the chancel are two long benches of the 15th century with moulded standards that have trefoiled panels and tracery of vine or foliage designs, and poppy heads, the two northern carved as foliage. The southeast poppy head is carved with two bishops back to back, and the south-west has a winged figure (of St. Michael?) with a sword and shield back to back with an eagle.
Another shorter bench has poppy heads carved with foliage and with a dog's head with protruding tongue.
There is also a 17th-century chair with elbows and turned posts and a carved back with foliage pattern, and a voluted cresting to the top rail.
At the west end of the nave, south of the tower doorway, is a seat the back of which is made up with 6 bays of close panelling from a screen. They have trefoiled ogee heads with variously carved cusp-points and trefoiled tracery, and the panel in each is pierced within the main foil with a peep-hole in the form of a quatrefoil or else a revolving design. It is possible this was part of the rood-loft gallery front, but the design differs somewhat from any part of the screen or east front of the loft.
Other seats in the nave are made up of 18th-century fielded panels and some older plain panelling.
A plain oak chest by the south doorway is of c. 1600 and has its front board cut with three round-headed panels.
On the west wall of the nave is a carved Royal arms dated 1826, and above that an achievement of the Spencer arms with supporters, also two other shields of the arms. The whole of this wall appears to have been once painted over with inscriptions probably, in part, of the 17th century.
In the west part of the nave and aisle floors are reset many Stoneleigh Abbey encaustic tiles but they are now badly worn. Some show traces of the wawen inscription, others the Butler shield (a fesse between six covered cups), and another a fesse between seven crosses in a border, and other designs.
On the north wall of the chancel is a large white stone monument to John son and heir of Sir Robert Spencer; died 1610 'the 6th August after the computation of the Church of England and the sixteenth after the new computation', aged 19 years 8 months and some days. The panel with the inscription has panelled side pilasters, each carved in relief with three shields of arms, and ribands with the mottoes Prendere et tenere and Dieu defende le droit. Above it is a large coloured achievement of the Spencer arms between two pairs of coffered panels and over these an entablature with a foliage-carved frieze. Above the cornice is open-scrolled cresting and two obelisks.
On the south wall is a small black tablet to Ann wife of Thomas Barford, Vicar, died 19 May 1686. It is set in a carved white stone frame with heads and terminals of pendants of fruit and flowers: at the top are cherubs' heads and, below, a skull.
In the floor is a grave-slab to the Rev. William Pettipher, Vicar, 1754, and another to the Rev. W. Dawes, Vicar, 1720. A circular floor-slab partly concealed by the chancel-step has remains of an inscription . . . of robert . . . This apparently recorded the paving of the chancel by Sir Robert Spencer in 1612. (fn. 56)
By the south door another slab to Robert Lecocke with the date 1690 is partly hidden by the seating.
There are three bells: (fn. 57) the treble by H. Bagley, 1642; the second by Richard or Robert Mellour of Nottingham (c. 1500–20); and the third dated 1617 with the founder's mark of Hugh Watts.
The plate includes a cup of 1582 with a cover paten, and a flagon of 1605 with a shield of Spencer impaling Willoughby.
The registers begin in 1588.
The church was presumably in existence in 1086, as a priest is mentioned in the survey of the Count of Meulan's estate at Wormleighton. (fn. 58) It was given to Kenilworth Priory by the younger Geoffrey de Clinton, his gift being confirmed by Henry II and by Richard Peche, Bishop of Coventry. (fn. 59) Bishop Geoffrey in the reign of King John arranged that after the death of the then incumbent two-thirds of the issues should be appropriated to the priory and the other third be assigned to the vicar. (fn. 60) In 1239 the priory obtained a quitclaim of the advowson from Richard Peche and Ralph Passelewe. (fn. 61) The church was valued in 1291 at £10, (fn. 62) and in 1535 the rectory was farmed at £15, (fn. 63) out of which the canons were said to pay £8 6s. 8d. as the salary of the vicar, (fn. 64) though the value of the vicarage is given as £6 13s. 4d. in money paid by the monastery of Kenilworth. (fn. 65) In 1547 the rectory was on lease to Sir Nicholas Styrley, (fn. 66) but in 1549 it was granted, with the advowson of the vicarage, to John Hulson and Bartholomew Brokesby, citizens of London. (fn. 67) They probably sold to Sir John Spencer, who presented to the living in 1554, (fn. 68) and the advowson has since descended with the manor, being now in the hands of Earl Spencer.